Australian Open: Emma Raducanu may need wild card to avoid qualifying for main draw on planned major return

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Emma Raducanu has not played since April following surgery on her wrists and ankle; the 2021 US Open champion may need to come through qualifying at the Australian Open to reach the main draw despite a protected world ranking of 103

Emma Raudcanu is targeting a a return to competition ahead of the Australian Open

Emma Raducanu is expected to return to action in Australia next month after a lengthy spell out following three surgeries.

The Times reported on Tuesday that she has signed up to the Australian Open entry list using her protected ranking of 103.

However, as it stands that will not get her into the main draw, meaning she will either need to qualify, be awarded a wild card or hope other players drop out.

The protected ranking, also known as special ranking, is a system where players on the tour who have been out of action long-term can re-enter events at the ranking they found themselves when they last received money at an event.

Raducanu, who pulled out of an exhibition event in China last month as a precaution has not played since April and is currently ranked 296 in the world.

The Australian Open qualifying begins on January 8, with the Grand Slam at Melbourne Park getting under way on January 14.

While an Australian Open wild card is not out of the question for Raducanu, organisers tend to prioritise local talent meaning Raducanu would need three wins in qualifying to reach the main draw.

That would be familiar territory for the former British number one, however, as she became the only player in history to win a grand slam title as a qualifier when she won the US Open at Flushing Meadows two years ago.

The 21-year-old has been stepping up her training recently at the National Tennis Centre in London after surgery on each wrist and another operation on her ankle and this week was training in Hong Kong, whilst visiting the city for a sponsor event.

In preparation for a possible qualification stint for the Australian Open, Raducanu could play in Auckland at the ASB Classic or at the Brisbane International – both of which start on January 1.

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