Emma Raducanu handed glorious chance to seal huge rankings boost

Kevin Palmer
Emma Raducanu in action in Doha 2024
Emma Raducanu on court in Doha

Emma Raducanu is preparing to play in the Miami Open and from this point forward in 2024, she is set to be handed a glorious chance to make some big leaps up the WTA rankings.

Raducanu stepped away from tennis last April as she underwent surgery on both wrists and her ankle, with her comeback starting in Australia in January.

The 2021 US Open champion has suffered indifferent results since she returned, but that is to be expected given the length of time Raducanu spent on the sidelines and the serious nature of her surgeries.

Yet amid some disappointing results, the 21-year-old has shown flashes of brilliance that suggest she can compete with the game’s biggest stars, with her performance in defeat against world No 2 Aryna Sabalenka at Indian Wells offering up evidence that she is competitive against a top ten rival.

Yet Raducanu is starting from a low base as she will be No 288 in the WTA rankings when they are released on Monday and will be relying on wildcards to get into major events.

As she remains a big draw for tournament directors, those invites should continue to flow and that will give her a big chance to make a rapid leap up the rankings.

Raducanu has just very few points to defend for the rest of this year and as Naomi Osaka and Caroline Wozniacki have shown in recent weeks, fast leaps in the rankings are possible when you start from such a low base.

Wozniacki is knocking on the top of the top 100 after her run to the Indian Wells quarter-finals saw her jump 75 places in the rankings.

Four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka made a huge leap in the rankings after a run to the last eight of a WTA 500 event in Qatar last month.

READ MORE: Emma Raducanu warns of ‘really bad’ problem in tennis as Iga Swiatek adds to her argument

Germany’s Angelique Kerber is also on the comeback trail and she has gone up 265 places in the WTA rankings after a run to the last 16 at Indian Wells in recent days.

Now Raducanu has a chance to follow that lead, as she has no points to defend from 2024 and will be making gains in every tournament she enters.

After playing in the WTA 1000 event in Miami, Raducanu will play in the clay court event in Stuttgart next month, where 500 ranking points go to the winner.

The challenge will be putting wins on the board as Raducanu will be unseeded for tournaments in the next few months and could face top ten rivals early in the competition.

Yet she is setting realistic targets for 2024, as she looks to find her feet back on the WTA Tour.

“If you would have said to me last year, Emma, what is your goal for the year? I’d be like, Okay, I want to win one round in the main draw of a Grand Slam,” she said.

“I did that in Australia. That to me last year probably would have made my year, to be honest.

“Yeah, what might be a poor result now in people’s eyes to me would have been a positive thing. I think I need to keep reminding yourself of that, not getting sucked in.

“I feel like now people are starting to realize it’s going to take some time for her to settle in. I feel like patience is a big thing.

“Once I settle in and go through all these highs and lows, I’ll find some sort of equilibrium.”

A place back in the top 100 of the WTA rankings by the end of 2024 would be a realistic target for Raducanu and while expectations will always be inflated for a Grand Slam champion, Raducanu’s story is always likely to be a little different to any other player in tennis history given how she broke through and won a Grand Slam at such a formative stage of her career.