Source: BBC Sport
BRITAIN’s Emma Raducanu has pulled out of an exhibition match in Macau at the start of December as she continues her rehabilitation from hand and foot operations.
The 2021 US Open champion – who turns 21 today – has not played since April, but is still hoping to return to the tour in January.
The exhibition in China has come too soon, however, especially as the organisers wanted time to seek out a potential replacement.
Raducanu has fallen to 289 in the world rankings, but will be able to use a protected ranking of 103 next year as she has not played for over six months.
That might be high enough for a place in the main draw of the Australian Open, but she is still likely to need a wildcard for the WTA Tour events in Brisbane and Auckland in the first week of the season.
Raducanu has been restricted to just nine matches in 2023 and in May had an operation on both of her hands and left ankle, which she injured in Auckland in the first event of the year.
The hand pain, caused by a bone very close to her wrists, had been troubling her since the end of the 2022 season.
Raducanu returned to the court to begin some very light work at the start of August, and posted a video of herself hitting some soft, oversized tennis balls to Kyle Edmund at the National Tennis Centre in London.
But progress in the first two months was slow and Raducanu took the opportunity to visit her grandmother in China. It was not until the start of October when a more structured return to tour competition began to take shape under the guidance of LTA staff at the National Tennis Centre.
If Raducanu’s rehab was behind schedule at this stage – and her summer months were described as a “bit of a black hole” by one observer – then genuine progress appears to have been made since.
She has been working through the different coloured tennis balls children start out with. That means beginning with a red ball, which is decompressed and has little bounce, before progressing to an orange, green and then the regular yellow ball.
There is not yet any sign of Raducanu developing a team around her which could offer stability and confidence as she returns to the tour.
Raducanu said shortly after her three operations that “circumstances made it unfeasible” for her to continue working with Sebastian Sachs, and she is still without a dedicated coach.
Her short-lived partnership with Andy Murray’s former strength and conditioning coach Jez Green has also fizzled out, and she is currently using LTA staff for both fitness and physio.
Whether or not Raducanu is on the starting line for the first tournament of the new year, she says she has been “very itchy and hungry to go for quite some time now.”
“I think the biggest thing from the last few months was how much I missed the sport,” she told Today on BBC Radio 4 last month.
“I think that was the standout thing – how much I missed training, how much I missed my body hurting and feeling tired and dragging yourself through certain exercises when you don’t feel like it.”
November 14, 2023 @ 7:37 GMT|