The tennis world is buzzing with anticipation as Emma Raducanu, the 21-year-old US Open 2021 champion, gears up for her comeback at the Australian Open. However, the path leading to the main draw is fraught with challenges for Raducanu. Her protected ranking of 103 in the world, a consequence of surgeries on both wrists and an ankle in April of the previous year, may not guarantee her automatic entry.
Return to the Court: A Protected Ranking and Wildcards
As it stands, the cutoff for direct entry into the main draw is at world number 99. This puts Raducanu in a precarious position where she must wait for at least six higher-ranked players to withdraw before the tournament. Further complicating matters, eight other players have also requested entry with a higher protected ranking than Raducanu's.
If the conditions for automatic entry are not met, Raducanu will have to tread the arduous path of competing in the qualifying rounds. Yet, this is a path she has walked before at the US Open in 2021, eventually culminating in her winning the title. An alternate route into the main draw may also open up if she receives one of the eight wildcard invitations from the Australian Open organizers.
Training and Mindset for the Comeback
Despite a difficult year in 2023 due to injuries, Raducanu has not let that deter her spirit. She has been sharing pictures of her blisters, a testament to her rigorous preparation for 2024. Amid all the challenges, she remains focused on her training and mental state, laying the groundwork for a successful return.
Awaiting Raducanu's Return
The tennis community, including luminaries like Rick Macci, who expressed interest in working with Raducanu, eagerly awaits her return. She will make her comeback at the ASB Classic in Auckland in January, joining a star-studded WTA lineup, including Caroline Wozniacki, Elina Svitolina, and defending champion Coco Gauff. Despite missing out on the initial batch of wildcard entries for the Australian Open, Raducanu remains undeterred. The eyes of the tennis world are trained on her as she prepares to make her mark once again.