Emma Raducanu blames the organisation of the ASB Classic in Auckland for the freak injury that forced her to withdraw from her match against Viktoria Kuzmova on Thursday, after their Last 16 match was sent indoors because of persistent rain.
I thought I was playing some pretty decent tennis. The [indoor] courts are incredibly slick, like very slippery so, to be honest, it’s not a surprise that this happened to someone. It’s out of my control, and after a very long day of waiting around. Emma Raducanu
The decision made the British No 1 unhappy as she claimed the indoor courts were ‘very slippery’ and had caused her to roll her ankle towards the end of the second set, having easily bagelled the Slovakian in the first.
The 2021 US Open champion was forced to concede the match after having the ankle strapped, and left the court in tears.
According to reports, the indoor courts at the ASB Classic were not re-surfaced ahead of the tournament, making them very difficult to gain any traction on, and the Brit, who suffered numerous injuries throughout 2022, bemoaned her misfortune while speaking to the media afterwards.
“It’s difficult to take,” she admitted. “I’ve put a lot of physical work in the last few months and I’ve been feeling good and optimistic.
“So to be stopped by a freak injury, rolling an ankle is pretty disappointing, in the first week as well.”
She blamed the poor court conditions for her injury, and also criticised organisers for the long wait to play her match.
“I thought I was playing some pretty decent tennis,” she continued. “The courts are incredibly slick, like very slippery so, to be honest, it’s not a surprise that this happened to someone.
“It’s out of my control, and after a very long day of waiting around,” she added.
With the Australian Open a little over a week away, the Brit cast doubt on her participation due to the injury.
“We’ll assess over the next few days and make a plan,” she said of her injury. “But Auckland, overall, it rained a lot this week, so I didn’t get to see much, and I thought maybe certain aspects could have been organised better but, overall, I had pleasant support when playing outdoors, and the crowd made me feel really welcome and at home.”
Top seed Coco Gauff also expressed disappointment over the organisation at the ASB Classic after her win over Sofia Kenin, which was also played indoors.
“It’s been tough, honestly,” Gauff said. “Just waiting, waiting, waiting waiting, then being put indoors.
“I kind of speculated it would be indoors, but I didn’t think we’d wait so long before they made the decision.”
The American added that the wait had been so long that she went back to her hotel for a rest.
“Honestly, I didn’t expect the rain to stop for a bit, I thought it was going to pour all day,” she said. “I went back to the hotel, took a nap, then came back here.”
With some 10 days before the start of the Australian Open on 16 January, Raducanu is hoping there is time for recovery, and it is of small consolation that the injury is not a recurrence of a previous issue.
Raducanu ended her 2022 season early after suffering a wrist injury in October, but had started 2023 by rallying for a 4-6 6-4 6-2 victory over emerging Czech talent Linda Fruhvirtova, aged 17, on Tuesday.
This latest withdrawal drew a raft of bullying messages on social media by some who do not fully understand the pressures faced by professional athletes in all sports and are quick to criticise.
Meanwhile, ASB Classic Tournament Director Nicolas Lamperin has fired back at Raducanu’s comments on the state of the indoor surface.
“We are obviously very sorry about Emma’s injury,” Lamperin told New Zealand TV network 1news. “Every player works really hard in the off-season, and that’s not what you expect when you play a tournament in week one.
“However, injuries happen all the time, and it could have happened on outdoor courts as well. We feel [sorry] about the situation, but we also say these courts are fit to play.
“The courts have been checked and we’ve had a number of matches on the indoor courts. We haven’t had an injury apart from yesterday.
“As far as the tournament is concerned, with the support of the referee and the supervisor, we are able to play and use this court.”
For Raducanu fans, it is a matter of waiting to see if the British No 1 responds to treatment. As she has said: “We’ll assess over the next few days and make a plan.”