Tournament organisers in Auckland have insisted their courts “are fit to play” on, after Emma Raducanu claimed the “slippery” surface contributed to her Australian Open-threatening ankle injury.
British No 1 Raducanu tearfully retired from her second-round match against Viktoria Kuzmova at the ASB Classic on Thursday, with a suspected sprain after she appeared to roll her left ankle while changing direction.
Though Telegraph Sport understands it remains too early to tell how serious the injury is, Raducanu plans to travel to Melbourne in the hopes she will be fit in time for the Australian Open, which begins in just 10 days.
The injury happened on the indoor practice courts in Auckland, after play was moved due to more than 24 hours of rain delays which scuppered the tournament schedule.
Former US Open champion Raducanu was vocal about her dissatisfaction with the conditions, which she described as “incredibly slick”.
“To be stopped by a freak injury, rolling an ankle is pretty disappointing, in the first week [of the year] as well,” Raducanu, 20, said. “I thought I was playing some pretty decent tennis. The courts are incredibly slick, like very slippery, so to be honest it’s not a surprise that this happened to someone.”
While tournament director Nicholas Lamperin was sympathetic to Raducanu’s plight, he confirmed that the courts were approved by the tournament referee and a WTA tournament supervisor and refuted claims it was at fault for her injury.
“We are obviously very sorry about Emma’s injury,” Lamperin said on Friday. “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.”
Raducanu spent two months working on her physical condition from October to December in order to avoid niggling injuries which impacted her last season. Even the strongest of athletes could be undone by rolling an ankle though, and simply an incredibly unlucky start to 2023 for Raducanu, in just her second match of the year.
On Friday she posted a video to Instagram of her winning moment against Linda Fruhvirtova in the Auckland first round, with the caption “two days ago” and “sport”, as well as an emoji holding back tears.
Lamperin said on Friday that he wished to speak with Raducanu to check on her condition and to clear the air. “First of all, I want to make sure she’s ok. This is my number one priority,” he said. “I understand the frustration. It’s 10 days ahead of the Australian Open. She’s coming from a season with a lot of injuries, so of course this is something which creates frustration. We will have a discussion, whether it’s with her or her management, that’s for sure, and we’ll take it from there.”
He added: “Every tournament in the world has had issues with the weather. It’s us this year, it’s obviously very challenging. It’s not the experience we want to deliver to the players and fans but we just have to deal with it. I don’t think long term it will have any negative impact on the tournament. This is nothing new in tennis.”
#courts #fit #play