Emma Raducanu to return to tennis at Auckland Open but may need Australian Open wild card to avoid qualifiers

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Emma Raducanu has not played since April 2023 following surgery on her wrists and ankle; watch Raducanu’s return to tennis at the Auckland Open live on Sky Sports in January in the build-up to the 2024 Australia

Tim Henman, Laura Robson and Katie Boulter believe the new Sky Sports five-year partnerships with the ATP and WTA to show all-year-round tennis will help grow the sport in the UK

Emma Raducanu will return to tennis at the Auckland Open in January after eight months out of the sport.

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 21-year-old will make her comeback at the Auckland Open on the week beginning January 1 – live on Sky Sports – with Coco Gauff also in action in the same tournament.

The Times reported on Tuesday that Raducanu 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.

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.

Current list of alternates for Australian Open main draw

1) Aleksandra Krunic, Serbia – protected ranking, No 99

2) Kamilla Rakhimova, Russia – actual ranking, No 100

3) Yafan Wang, China – actual ranking, No 101

4) Julia Grabher, Austria – actual ranking, No 102

5) Tamara Zidansek, Slovenia – actual ranking, No 103

6) Emma Raducanu, GB – protected ranking, No 103

That would be familiar territory for the former British No 1, 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, while visiting the city for a sponsor event.

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