What next for Emma Raducanu after her latest injury setback?

Emma Raducanu (Twitter @ASB_Classic)

This time, the pain cut deep for Emma Raducanu as the tears flowed following her retirement from the ABS Classic in Auckland.

As the former US Open champion limped out of his first tournament of 2023, all the hard work she has put in over the last few months evaporated as injury struck her down again.

After winning the first set 6-0 against qualifier Viktoria Kuzmova in Auckland, the British No 1 appeared to go over on her right ankle as she battled to stay in the second set f a match played indoors due to the inclement weather.

She lost the second set 7-5 and had treatment for several minutes as she attempted to continue in the match, but it was clear that that injury would again halt her ambitions after a promising week in New Zealand.

Raducanu ended her 2022 season early after suffering a wrist injury in October, but had started 2023 by rallying for a 4-6 6-4 6-2 victory over emerging Czech talent Linda Fruhvirtova, 17, on Tuesday.

Now she was eyeing up a quarter-final in her first WTA Tour event of the year, with the tears that poured from her as she limped to the net to concede the match highlighting the despair of a 20-year-old whose body continues to fail her despite her efforts to change this narrative.

“It’s difficult to take. I’ve put a lot of physical work in the last few months and I’ve been feeling good and optimistic,” said Raducanu.

“So to be stopped by a freak injury, rolling an ankle, is pretty disappointing.”

Hiring Andy Murray’s former fitness coach Jez Green was hailed as a masterstroke that could help to end Raducanu’s ongoing physical problems.

And the early signs in Auckland suggested she was in good shape as she looked forward to the Australian Open after coming through a long battle against Fruhvirtova.

Now there must be serious doubts over Raducanu’s participation in the first major of the year, with any ankle ligament damage almost certain to end her hopes of playing in Melbourne. 

This is Raducanu’s worst nightmare, just days after she stated her biggest target for the year was to stay injury free.

“For 2023 my goal is to stay healthy for longer,” Raducanu told the WTA earlier this week. 

“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.”

We now await an update on the latest roadblock placed before Racucanu and while this kind of injury is part of the story for all tennis players, the cumulative impact of constant setbacks will be hard for this talented star to accept.

Even in her brief appearance in Auckland, Raducanu confirmed she is a player capable of winning again on the biggest stages of the game. 

It remains to be seen whether her body will allow her to realise those ambitions.