Emma Raducanu’s special ranking won’t give her entry into Australian Open main draw so what next?
Emma Raducanu remains on the comeback trail following her injury-disrupted 2023 campaign and she is hopeful of playing at next year’s season-opening Grand Slam, the Australian Open.
However, the 2021 US Open champion has slipped to No 296 in the WTA Rankings after missing the bulk of this season following surgery on both her wrists as well as her ankle.
Such a low ranking is not good enough for an appearance in the main draw of Grand Slams, but players can use their “special ranking” to gain entry into tournaments.
According to the official WTA website: “A player who is out of competition for more than 6 months but less than one year may use her special ranking for up to 8 tournaments in a one-year period.”
Eleven players have used their special ranking to enter the 2024 hard-court Grand Slam at Melbourne Park with former Grand Slam champions Angelique Kerber (31), Naomi Osaka (46) and Raducanu (103) the notable names.
Jennifer Brady (14), Ajla Tomjanovic (33), Shelby Rogers (51), Amanda Anisimova (61), Caty McNally (71), Aleksandra Krunic (99), Hsieh Su-wei (106) and Ysaline Bonaventure (109) are the other players on the list.
Unfortunately for Raducanu, who has been sidelined since May this year, her special ranking of 103 is unlikely to be good enough for entry into the main draw of the Australian Open as the cutoff is likely to be 99.
What Are Raducanu’s Options?
Australian Open organisers could opt to give Raducanu a wildcard for the season-opening Grand Slam.
There are eight wildcards on offer for the women’s draw, but Australian players receive preference and they are followed by American and French players as “Tennis Australia also has a reciprocal arrangement with the French Tennis Federation and USTA, offering exchanges in French Open and US Open wildcards”.
But given that Raducanu is a former Grand Slam winner she could find herself on the list of players to receive wildcards.
If no wildcard is forthcoming, then Raducanu will have to go through qualifying and come through three rounds to secure a place in the main draw.
The last time Raducanu took part in a qualifying draw at a Grand Slam was at the 2021 US Open and we all know that story had a fairytale end as she went on to win the tournament without dropping a set – winning three matches in qualifying and seven matches in the main draw.
Raducanu may well use some warm-up events prior to the Australian Open to gauge her fitness and competitiveness before deciding whether or not to go through qualifying.
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