Emma Raducanu is heading to Melbourne but faces a nervous wait to see if she will be healthy enough to compete at the Australian Open after suffering a sprained ankle in her first tournament of the year.
On Thursday, Raducanu rolled her ankle at the beginning of the third set in her ASB Classic second-round match against Viktoria Kuzmova in Auckland. After receiving medical treatment, the 20-year-old played one point before retiring in tears. Afterwards, Raducanu criticised the “slick” indoor courts they had been forced to compete on due to rain.
She will now go straight to Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open, the first grand slam tournament of the year, but is still awaiting conclusive test results on the severity of her ankle sprain.
Raducanu and her team are hoping that she will be diagnosed with a grade 1 sprain, which would at least give her a chance of being ready to compete at the Australian Open, which begins on 16 January. If her ankle injury is more severe, however, her chances of competing in Melbourne would be remote.
A year ago, Raducanu’s off-season was disrupted after testing positive for Covid-19 and then she suffered from blisters in her Australian Open second round loss to Danka Kovinic.
Those opening weeks set the tone for a season filled with injury and health issues, ending with her withdrawal from the Billie Jean King Cup finals in Glasgow, and further complicating the task of following up her 2021 US Open victory.
Raducanu has enjoyed what she described as a positive off-season in 2022 with her new trial coach Sebastian Sachs and had hoped that her body would be more adjusted to the rigours of tennis in her second full season. This time, rather than any physical weakness, her progress has been halted by the bitter misfortune of a sprained ankle.
Meanwhile, former world number one Ash Barty has announced she is pregnant with her first child.
The tennis champion retired after last year’s Australian Open and will not defend her crown in Melbourne later this month.
The 26-year-old revealed her baby news on social media on Friday night. Barty posted a photo on Instagram of her dog Origi with a pair of baby shoes.
“2023 set to be the best year yet. We are so excited for our new adventure,” Barty wrote in a caption including a baby emoji. “Origi already the protective big sister.”
Her partner, golf professional Garry Kissick, also posted on Instagram a photo of the baby shoes with the dog and a baby-sized Liverpool kit with the caption “Little Red, 2023″ and a baby emoji.
Barty, a three-time grand slam champion, shocked the tennis world in 2022 by quitting the sport seven weeks after ending Australia’s 44-year singles title drought in Melbourne.
Her grand slam victories included the 2020 French Open, Wimbledon in 2021 and hometown success at the 2022 Australian Open.
Barty married Kissick in July last year when the 26-year-old exchanged vows in a private ceremony in Queensland. – Guardian