Britain’s Emma Raducanu has accepted a wildcard to play at the Auckland Classic in the New Year after missing out on one in the initial batch offered by the Australian Open.
The former U.S. Open winner has had a lengthy absence from the tour following operations on both wrists and an ankle this year but hopes to be fit for the start of the 2024 season.
The 21-year-old is set to return to Auckland with a protected ranking of 103 and a year on from exiting the tournament in tears after rolling her ankle during a second-round match moved indoors due to wet weather.
Raducanu condemned the court for being “very slippery” after retiring against Slovakian Viktoria Kuzmova, though organisers were adamant the surface was fit to play.
“Despite the fact she had to retire this year, she was really happy to come back,” tournament director Nicolas Lamperin told New Zealand media on Thursday.
Raducanu joins a field featuring reigning champion and U.S. Open holder Coco Gauff and former world number one Caroline Wozniacki, who was given a wildcard as she continues her tour comeback after a three-year hiatus to start a family.
American Amanda Anisimova was also given a wildcard and is set to return to action after pulling out of the tour in May, citing burnout and mental health concerns.
Unlike former Australian Open champion Wozniacki, who won her sole Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park in 2018, Raducanu missed out on a wildcard in the initial batch announced on Wednesday for the year’s first Grand Slam.
Organisers will award another four for the women’s singles main draw before the tournament starts January 14.
If Raducanu misses out again she may have to battle through qualifying to compete.
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