Emma Raducanu will take on Caroline Garcia in Indian Wells late on Friday after defying predictions to recover from a hip injury.
The US Open champion suffered the problem in a marathon match in Mexico two-and-a-half weeks ago and feared she would have to miss the BNP Paribas Open, one of the biggest tournaments on the WTA Tour.
‘It’s a bit of a bonus for me,’ the 19-year-old told the BBC. ‘Basically everyone was like, “there’s no chance you are playing Indian Wells”.’
It is welcome news for Raducanu, who has faced a number of obstacles as she seeks to build on her remarkable New York triumph.
An ill-timed bout of coronavirus disrupted what was her first proper pre-season, and she was hampered by blisters at the Australian Open, losing in the second round.
‘It’s all part of it, all these spanners in the works,’ she said. ‘I feel I can take whatever bad luck is thrown at me after all the good fortune I had last year.
‘But, yes, it is frustrating because I was hoping to build on it, but I’m sure I’ve got many more chances and tournaments to try and redeem that.’
Andy Murray is also in action on Friday when he takes on Japan’s Taro Daniel for the third time this year while Harriet Dart meets Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina and Liam Broady takes on Miomir Kecmanovic.
After British players won their first nine matches of the tournament combined, there were defeats on Thursday for qualifiers Heather Watson and Katie Boulter.
A strong desert wind was the defining feature of matches on Thursday but Naomi Osaka battled through it to claim her first career win over Sloane Stephens, fighting past the American 3-6 6-1 6-2 in round one.