British tennis star Emma Raducanu is set to make her injury comeback at the Auckland Open, following a notable absence from the tour due to multiple operations.
The 21-year-old, who triumphed at the U.S. Open in 2021, has been out of action because of surgeries on both wrists and an ankle. However, she is eyeing a return for the 2024 season, starting with the Auckland Classic.
Raducanu's participation in Auckland comes after she missed out on a wildcard entry for the Australian Open. The initial batch of wildcards for the tournament did not include Radacanu, leaving her future participation uncertain. If she fails to secure a spot in the remaining wildcards, Raducanu may have to go through qualifying rounds to compete in the Australian Open, set to commence on Jan. 14.
In Auckland, Raducanu will enter the tournament with a protected world ranking of 103. Her last appearance at the event was challenging, after she had to withdraw mid-match due to an ankle injury. The injury occurred during a second-round match against Slovakia's Viktoria Kuzmova, which was indoors due to rain. Raducanu criticized the indoor court for being “very slippery,” although organizers maintained that the conditions were suitable for play.
Despite last year's setback, tournament director Nicolas Lamperin expressed Raducanu's eagerness to return: “Despite the fact she had to retire this year, she was really happy to come back,” Lamperin said, as reported by Reuters.
The Auckland Open will feature a strong field, including reigning champion and U.S. Open holder Coco Gauff, and former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. Wozniacki, who is making a tour comeback after a three-year break, has also received a wildcard entry for the Australian Open. American player Amanda Anisimova, who took a break from the tour citing burnout and mental health concerns, will also return to the courts with a wildcard.