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

Kevin Palmer
Emma Raducanu on court
Emma Raducanu missed much of the 2023 season due to injury

After months of speculation, former US Open champion Emma Raducanu has confirmed when she will make her return to action.

The 21-year-old has not played a 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 one 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.

And it has now been announced she will play at the WTA tournament in New Zealand beginning on January 1.

It will be Raducanu’s second appearance in Auckland and she will hope it is more positive than her debut in January, when she suffered an ankle injury during her second-round match and retired in tears.

The former US Open champion was able to recover to compete at the Australian Open but opted to undergo a procedure on her ankle to repair the damage in the spring.

She criticised the “slippery” courts afterwards but has decided to accept a wild card to return.

Raducanu’s ranking has slipped to 296 and she faces a long road back to the top of the game, but it should give her the opportunity to fill in some of the steps she missed out thanks to her giant leap to stardom.

She can use a protected ranking of 103 to enter tournaments because of her long lay-off but that is currently not high enough to earn her a place in the main draw of the Australian Open.

Barring enough withdrawals of higher-ranked players, or a wild card, she will have to go through qualifying at a slam for the first time since her stunning title run in New York in 2021.

Reigning US Open champion Coco Gauff, former world number one Caroline Wozniacki and Wimbledon semi-finalist Elina Svitolina are among the other names confirmed for the Auckland tournament.

“I will be coming back with probably a lower ranking, but I’m actually looking forward to starting again, kind of resetting,” said Raducanu in November.

“I already have that in the bank, so now I can keep going and keep building from here. I still have new goals, new things I want to achieve.

“But I’ve still got like 15 years left in my career, so there’s no rush.”

Since winning the US Open in September 2021, Raducanu has played 49 competitive matches at WTA Tour level and has won 23 of them.

Her overall career record confirms she has won 34 matches and lost 30 of the 64 she has played at the top level of the game and in truth, that is a decent record for a 21-year-old player trying to make her mark on the WTA Tour.

The trouble is, Raducanu set her standards so high in her breakthrough tournaments at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2021 that anything less than title-winning excellence would have been viewed as a failure.

Those expectations were always unrealistic and they need to reset as the former world No 10 prepares to return to action.

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