Emma Raducanu could face a huge name in her first match back on the WTA Tour

Emma Raducanu at Indian Wells

Emma Raducanu ended weeks of speculation when she confirmed where she will make her comeback to the WTA Tour – and now the entry list has given a few clues who could lie in wait for the former US Open champion in her opening match.

The 21-year-old has not played a competitive match since a heavy loss to Jelena Ostapenko in Stuttgart in April.

She subsequently withdrew from the Madrid Open and opted to undergo surgery on both wrists and also her ankle.

Having initially targeted a comeback in late summer or early autumn, Raducanu has ended up missing the rest of the 2023 season.

Until recently there were doubts over whether she would make the start of next year but those have eased in recent weeks as she has stepped up her training.

Now it has been announced she will play at the WTA tournament in Aukland, New Zealand beginning on January 1.

Raducanu has received the backing of former British No. 1 as she makes her return to action, with Laura Robson convinced the young Brit can get back to her best.

“We know she has got the game to do it. She has the ball striking ability, she is a great mover and a great all-round player and she competes,” Robson told Tennis365 at a Play Your Way To Wimbledon event.

“All you can do is stay as healthy as possible and try to play as many matches as possible to see where you go.

“Other players have come back very quickly in this last year. Svtolina has been amazing to watch and then Wozniacki has looked amazing considering she has not played in three and a half years.

“There are lots of players for Emma to look up to as examples of how quickly it can come back and not to get too disheartened if it doesn’t because everyone is on their own journey.”

READ MORE: Emma Raducanu finally confirms when she will make her comeback in 2024

It will be Raducanu’s second appearance in Auckland, after she suffered an ankle injury during her second-round match and retired in tears.

She will be hoping for more encouraging memories to be created in Aukland this year and she could be in line to face reigning US Open champion Coco Gauff in the opening round.

Gauff has opted to start her new season at the 2024 ASB Classic Auckland, where a potential clash with Raducanu would be a huge match to start the new tennis year.

Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, who reached the semi-finals at the French Open and Wimbledon this year, is also in the draw in Auckland, along with her Ukrainian compatriot Lesia Tsurenko.

There will also be plenty of interest in the return of America’s Amanda Anisimova in this tournament, as she prepares to return to action after stepping away from the sport last May citing burnout and concerns over her mental health.

Other top names could still be added to the Aukland draw, with Raducanu expected to arrive in Australia in the next couple of weeks as she begins the final countdown to her return.

There is no news yet over whether Racucanu will get a wild card to play at the Australian Open next month, with the option go going through qualifying also likely to be under consideration as she looks to make a steady return to the WTA Tour.

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