While needing a scooter to recover from an ankle injury
Emma Raducanu believes she is a better tennis player than she was before her injury absence
- Emma Raducanu was forced to use a scooter as she recovered from an ankle injury
- The 2021 US Open champion has fallen to 298 in the world after her absence
- She will make her return to the circuit at the Auckland Classic on Monday
Emma Raducanu believes that her injury-enforced break from tennis has not halted her progress to be a better tennis player, Samuel Draper reports for Mailonline.
The 2021 US Open champion missed most of the 2023 season after operations on both her wrists and one of her ankles, and it has meant that she has now fallen down the rankings to be placed 298th in the world.
But the 21-year-old returned to the circuit with an appearance at the Auckland Classic on New Year’s Day and went into detail about her injury issues in an interview before her first match of the season.
Raducanu told Sky Sports: ‘I would play, and then I had the patch where I couldn’t play again for two months because of one of my wrists.
‘That was difficult because I felt like I was just getting going, and then I stepped back again.
‘It was hard, especially in the first few months. When you’re so used to being active and moving around all the time, you suddenly have everything just cut off from you.
‘I had like two wrists and one foot [injured], so I couldn’t even use crutches. I had a scooter kind of thing, and you would push yourself around with one leg.
‘It was tough. I couldn’t go anywhere. I couldn’t go to the supermarket; imagine being that immobile.
‘I think it reignited the fire to get back out there competing and made me appreciate being healthy.’
A protected ranking means that she is in the main draw for the Auckland Classic, and Raducanu believes that she is better coming out of her absence than before the multiple injury setbacks.
Raducanu revealed: ‘Physically, I’m hitting the ball really well in practice over the last few weeks.
‘I think I’m a better tennis player than before the break.’
She noted that LTA officials saw her training and playing ‘really, really well’, pushing weights she couldn’t before.
‘In my body, I actually have confidence in it, which is really nice and tennis-wise I feel good too’, she said.
The 2021 US Open champion has now gone down in the rankings to 298th in the world
The British tennis player will play a qualifier in the first round of the New Zealand event on Monday. She will face Caroline Wozniacki or Elina Svitolina in round two if she wins.
Raducanu is eager to get going in Auckland, saying she fears no opponent despite the potential of a heavyweight opponent in her second match back from injury.
She said: ‘The field here in Auckland is extremely strong. I’m excited to play anyone. It doesn’t bother me.
‘I think, match-wise, it might take a while to adjust to the feeling of pre-match nerves or just match fitness. But, level-wise, I feel really good.’
The former top-ten player must qualify for the Australian Open after missing out on a wildcard for the first Grand Slam of 2024.
She tried to distance herself from the 2023 tour while she recovered, only attending Wimbledon for work commitments. She says she feels ‘refreshed’ due to her time away from tennis.