Emma Raducanu has been left cursing her luck and the sub-standard courts in Auckland after another injury put her Australian Open hopes in jeopardy.
The British No 1 left the court in tears after rolling his left ankle and forcing his retirement in the second round of the ASB Classic. This happened 11 days before the opening Grand Slam of the season.
Adding insult to injury was the belief that the slippery indoor court he was forced to attend, due to heavy rain, was responsible for his latest mishap.
Emma Raducanu walks off the court in tears after retiring from the ASB Classic in Auckland
Unusually for him, he criticized the tournament and the surfaces inside the deserted emergency venue, which didn’t seem as updated and renewed as their outdoor counterparts.
‘The courts are incredibly smooth, like very slippery, so to be honest, it’s not surprising that it happened to someone,’ Raducanu told New Zealand website stuff.co.nz. She was forced to retire when Slovakia’s Viktoria Kuzmova led 6-0, 5-7.
‘Auckland in general, it rained a lot this week, so I didn’t see too much and I thought some aspects could have been better, but overall I had good support.
‘It’s out of my control and after a very long day of waiting around. But we will check in the next few days and see what the next steps are.
Raducanu rolled his ankle in the second set, and blamed the slippery court for his injury
‘It’s hard to take. I’ve put in a lot of physical work over the past few months and I’ve been feeling good and optimistic.
‘So to be stopped by a freak injury, rolling ankle, was a bit disappointing, in the first week as well. I thought I was playing pretty decent tennis.’
Raducanu has been repeatedly hit with physical ailments over the past year.
This time she was competing hard and reached 5-5 in the second set when she chased a ball behind the baseline and slipped when she suddenly changed direction. Two games later, there was the all-too-familiar scene of him calling the physio, who bandaged his left ankle after a medical timeout.
Raducanu received attention from the trainer, but retired at the start of the third set
Raducanu was apparently not told to stop the match and came out to start the third set. After a point, however, he winced and decided the struggle was too much.
When he touched the net he left a reverberating arena — no fans could welcome him — in tears. It was the fifth time in 12 months that Raducanu had failed to complete a tour match, coming as a major blow after hopes that his fitness would improve.
Unlike last year, when his off-season was ruined by Covid, the 20-year-old from Kent has had decent preparation ahead of this campaign and a chance to catch up on the training needed to survive the rigors of tour
He has engaged Andy Murray’s former fitness guru Jez Green as a part-time consultant and is also working more with his most trusted physio, Will Herbert. He is in Auckland with Raducanu as he tries to get to Melbourne, also after showing encouraging signs from his work with new coach Sebastian Sachs.
She came through an awkward first round against promising 17-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova and looked sharp in rolling over Kuzmova 6-0 in the first set.
Raducanu could be a doubt for the Australian Open which starts in just 11 days
The Slovak, who can be dangerous in streaks, played well in the second but Raducanu was likely to close out the match before his final disaster.
She chose not to play for Great Britain in the new United Cup mixed event that started the season, thinking she would likely get more matches at a smaller WTA event. Although there is an appearance fee for Auckland, the team’s competition money is also decent.
It turns out he had some great opportunities to play with his British teammates and didn’t have to endure the bad weather affecting New Zealand’s capital.
It looks like there is no chance of him playing in Adelaide next week and the best he can hope for is to go to Melbourne unscathed.
In a smaller tournament in Canberra, Katie Boulter defeated Heather Watson 6-1, 6-3 in an all-British quarter-final.
If Raducanu is a doubt for the Australian Open, so is former world No1 Naomi Osaka. The 25-year-old has yet to arrive in the country and will not be admitted anywhere next week.
The Japanese player travels the world with his girlfriend, rapper Cordae.
Champion in Melbourne in 2019 and 2021, Osaka has made no secret of having motivation issues and has not played since late September.
Tournament organizers seem unsure of his whereabouts and intentions.
They doubted that he would come out, even though he still made it to the first Grand Slam of the season.