Emma Raducanu was left in floods of tears after she was forced to withdraw from her ASB Classic match against Viktoria Kuzmova on Thursday with yet another injury problem. The Brit was in cruise control after winning the first set but appeared to roll her ankle towards the end of the second set before receiving treatment on the edge of the court.
Raducanu made her final point on serve but appeared to be in some discomfort and quickly signalled that she would not be able to play a decisive third set, leaving her hopes of competing at the Australian Open under serious threat with just 11 days until the first Grand Slam of the new year gets underway. The 20-year-old was clearly upset as she made her way off the court in tears after the latest in a string of unfortunate injury setbacks, which have plagued her progression since bursting onto the scene at Wimbledon two years ago.
It was hoped that Raducanu would be able to build up some much-needed winning momentum ahead of the Australian Open later this month after being knocked out of last year’s tournament in only the second round. She got off to a flying start against Kuzmova prior to her injury on Thursday by winning the opening set at a canter, making just three unforced errors on her way to drawing first blood.
The momentum quickly shifted over the course of the second set, though, with Raducanu missing a number of break point opportunities before losing grip of her own serve to hand Kuzmova a route back into the contest. She was eventually forced to retire due to her ankle injury and will be desperately hoping that she will be able to recover in time to play in Melbourne, with the draw for the Australian Open set to be made next Thursday.
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Raducanu insisted earlier this week that she was looking forward to the opportunity to make a fresh start in 2023 after struggling to stay fit over the course of last year, with her persistent injury problems and lack of form seeing her drop down to 78th in the world rankings.
“My goal is to stay healthy for longer,” said Raducanu. “I’m looking forward to working hard because I’ve got a better idea of what to expect now, so I’ll be less like a deer in the headlights.
“For a results goal I’d say it’s to win a title, and three I’d say is to be playing fearless tennis. Just not thinking about consequences, just going for it.”
Raducanu was forced to end her 2022 campaign in October due to a wrist injury but has been working alongside Andy Murray’s former trainer Jez Green over the last few months in a bid to return to full fitness, with her latest setback likely to serve as a major blow in terms of both her physical and mental approach to the new year.
“I think right now, because I’m still trying to find my timing and groove and my tennis,” she recently told reporters. “But once I settle into that I think the physical side will definitely have made a difference because there’s no way it can’t have.
“I’m also not ignorant in thinking two months is going to solve my entire physical condition. It’s going to take more time, over a year or two to redevelop.”
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