British No 1 Emma Raducanu returns to the match court this week at the AGEL Open in Ostrava, Czech Republic, at the start of what is a busy month for the 19-year old, who is targeting a Top 50 spot over the coming weeks with an eye of the 2023 season.
I had a really fun time last year in Cluj, the people were amazing and made me feel so, so welcomed. Whenever I can, I love to go back to Romania, that's where my dad came from. I have so many positive and happy memories from there, so I am really looking forward to coming back. Emma Raducanu
Having dropped to No 83 after failing to defend her US Open title last month, Raducanu already has risen to 66 after a good run to the semi-finals at the Korea Open in Seoul before having to retire injured.
She makes her tournament debut at the WTA 500 indoor event on Tuesday at 4pm BST, when she takes on Russia’s Daria Kasatkina in the opening round.
After Ostrava, Raducanu is set to return to the Transylvania Open, which gets underway on 10 October.
Raducanu reached the quarter-finals of the WTA 250 event held at Cluj-Napoca in Romania, where she lost to Marta Kostyuk last year, and denied a chance to play home favourite Simona Halep in the Last 4.
“I had a really fun time last year in Cluj, “ said Raducanu, whose father is Romanian and has a grandmother, Niculina, still living there. “The people were amazing and made me feel so, so welcomed.
“Whenever I can, I love to go back to Romania, that’s where my dad came from,” she added. “I have so many positive and happy memories from there, so I am really looking forward to coming back.”
Rounding off her October schedule, Raducanu will compete in the final WTA 1000 event of the year, the Guadalajara Open in Mexico, where she has received a wild-card and gets underway on 17 October.
She has also been confirmed for an exhibition singles match against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in December.
Jabeur, the World No 2, and Raducanu will play the opening match of 14th edition of the exhibition tournament, which takes place 16-18 December at Zayed Sport City’s International Tennis Centre in Abu Dhabi.
The first Arab to reach the Grand Slam finals at Wimbledon and the US Open final, Jabeur returns to the UAE to defend her Mubadala World Tennis Championship title where she was the first Arab to contest and win the event.
The 28-year-old faced Tokyo Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic in the headline women’s match and came from a set down to claim a memorable 4-6 6-3 [10-8] victory, to the delight of a raucous crowd inside the International Tennis Centre.
“Playing in Abu Dhabi is always exciting,” Jabeur said of her appearance at the 3-day championship. “I had a fantastic experience there in 2021, and I don’t want to lose the opportunity to defend my championship title this year.
“Aside from the match itself, I am most excited to see my fans there – I find them extremely special as they have supported me throughout every competition I have participated in this year.”
On the opposite side of the net will be Raducanu, who triumphed at the US Open last year to become the first British female to win a Grand Slam singles title since 1977, while she was also the first player to win the US Open women’s singles title without dropping a set since Serena Williams in 2014.
She was due to play in Abu Dhabi last year but had to pull out after contracting Covid.
“I am thrilled to finally be making my debut in Abu Dhabi,” said Raducanu. “I’ve heard great things about the fans, and how supportive they are, and I can’t wait to play in front of them all.”
Raducanu has had to deal with a number of fitness issues, including injuries and illness, that have blighted her first full season on the WTA Tour and have resulted in 4 match retirements so far, and 5 since she won the US Open last September.
Currently ranked 66 in the world with 856 points, Raducanu is 150 points adrift from America’s Sloane Stephens, who is currently at No 50 with 1,006 points.
The Briton has notched up some notable wins over Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Stephens, and looked more comfortable on the match court in her run to the semi-finals in Seoul, where she retired injured in the deciding set to former French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko.
Aiming to continue her good form at the indoor hard-court tournament in the Czech Republic this week, Raducanu faces No 5 seed Kasatkina in the 1st-round, with the Russian playing in her first tournament since the US Open.
The winner will face either Seoul champion Ekaterina Alexandrova or Azarenka in the round 2, with 3rd-seeded Anett Kontaveit from Estonia a potential quarter-final opponent.