Emma Raducanu may return for ASB Classic

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Naomi Osaka played at the ASB Classic in 2017, but won’t be coming back next year.

Naomi Osaka won’t be making her return to tennis at the ASB Classic in January, but there’s still a chance Emma Raducanu will.

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Both players have been out of the tennis scene this year, Osaka to become a mum and Raducanu to recover from a number of injuries.

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Both are returning to the circuit next year and ASB Classic tournament director Nicolas Lamperin confirmed both stars have been on his rHowever

However, with Osaka talks didn’t progress far and she won’t be joining Coco Gauff and Caroline Wozniacki in the draw for January’s tournament.

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“But I was being told she wanted to play the United Cup (in Australia), on the basis that she would get a minimum of two matches.

Emma Raducanu left in tears after slipping on an indoor court at the ASB Classic in January.

Emma Raducanu left in tears after slipping on an indoor court at the ASB Classic in January.

“It was early in the process and we had to move on and get Coco and Caroline.

“The budget isn’t limitless, so we decided not to go after her in the end.”

With Gauff and Wozniacki already confirmed and others to be announced soon, the women’s line up for the Classic is already looking strong, but it’s not out of the question that 2021 US Open champion Raducanu could be in the lineup.

Raducanu hasn’t played a match since April as she had operations on an ankle and both wrists in May.

She stated last week that she’ll look to come back next year and although she hasn’t announced a date to return, she has been doing on court training since August, so playing at the Australian Open would be the likely target.

Given the negative comments Raducanu made about the Classic this year when she slipped on an indoor court during her second round match against Viktoria Hruncakova, some might be surprised that the Brit is showing any interest in returning.

“The courts were incredibly slick, like very slippery,” said Raducanu soon after retiring from her match in Auckland.

“So to be honest it’s not a surprise that this happens to someone. It’s out of my control.”

However, Lamperin confirmed there have been talks about her coming back.

Nicolas Lamperin wants to give New Zealand tennis fans an opportunity to celebrate Erin Routliffe’s incredible success at this year’s US Open.

“There have been some, but it’s too early to say, because we still don’t have a set return date,” he said.

“The door is open if she wants to come, but we have had to go after other players, with whom we have more certainty.

“It’s not off the table, but we’d need more time, because we still don’t know when she’s coming back.”

Another announcement on the player field is expected in the next couple of weeks, while Lamperin said this year’s men’s champion Richard Gasquet is keen on defending his title.

“From what he told me in New York he’s not [retiring],” Lamperin said of the 37-year-old.

“He wants to come back. I think he’s going to push to the Olympics if he can make the cut.”

Meanwhile, Lamperin says he’s looking to change up the schedules for next year’s tournament to give an opportunity for US Open doubles champion Erin Routliffe to play on Centre Court with her partner Gaby Dabrowski.

Lamperin said he wants to recognise Routliffe’s achievement in New York and allow New Zealand tennis fans to show their appreciation.

“First of all, we’ve reached out to her, to congratulate her on her achievement,” Lamperin said.

“Also, I’ve had a look at the schedule, because I’d like to find a way to get more doubles matches on Centre Court for the first few days, which wasn’t the case last time. We had only singles.

“So I’m trying to find a way to have at least one doubles match on the Monday and Tuesday, which would be the perfect opportunity to put her in front of the Kiwi fans.

“We want to give her more exposure, because we want to recognise what she’s done at the US Open.

“I’m also following closely the Doubles Race, because she played in the final in Guadalajara last week and she’s now in ninth position for the WTA finals and potentially she could be there, which would be huge for her.

“We want to make sure we give her an opportunity to play in front of all of the fans.”

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