Emma Raducanu will wait another week to start her 2022 season after pulling out of the Melbourne Summer Set.
Raducanu flew to Australia on 29 December to begin preparations for her first grand slam appearance since becoming US Open champion back in September.
The British No 1 had been due to take part in the first WTA250 event in Melbourne, which starts on Tuesday, in which she would have been the No 2 seed and was slated to meet Naomi Osaka in the final.
However, Raducanu has pulled out of tournament three days and will start her season a week later at the Sydney Tennis Classic instead, playing just one event before the Australian Open starts on Monday 17 January.
- Tournament: Sydney Tennis Classic
- Date (probable): Monday 10 January
- Time: tbc
- Opponent: tbc
- How to watch: The Sydney Tennis Classic will be live on Amazon Prime Video via the website or the Prime Video app on mobile, tablet or Smart TV (with Prime subscription, £7.99 a month)
“The timing to compete in the first Melbourne event this week is too soon for me, having just returned from isolation,” Raducanu said.
i understands Raducanu is feeling fit and healthy, but does not think she has had enough time on court to compete adequately.
The 19-year-old spent much of December, including Christmas, in the Middle East in order to properly prepare for the rigours of her first full professional season, but saw her pre-season plans interrupted when she contracted Covid.
It meant that she was unable to face Olympic champion Belinda Bencic in a planned exhibition clash at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.
She also missed the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony in Manchester, where she won the top gong, although i understands she was always unlikely to fly back from Abu Dhabi for the event.
Raducanu will continue training in Adelaide before heading over to Sydney later in the week where she is due to take part in a star-studded WTA500 line-up.
Ranked 19 in the world, she will not even be seeded in the 30-player draw which includes world No 1 Ashleigh Barty, WTA Finals winner Garbine Muguruza and French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, among others.
The tournament will start on Monday 10 January with the final scheduled for Saturday 15 January, just two days before the start of the first grand slam of the year.
Injury concern for Tsitsipas
Elsewhere, Stefanos Tsitsipas gave fans a scare on the first day of the new year when he was spotted with an ice pack on his right elbow.
The world No 4 was due to play Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz in Greece’s opening ATP Cup tie but was forced to pull out of the match at short notice due to concern for his elbow.
The 2021 French Open finalist had surgery on the joint over the off-season but seemed to have made a full recovery, only for the withdrawal to raise fears he might not be fit in time for the first grand slam of the season.
However, he was fit enough to emerge for a doubles match with Michail Pervolarakis which they won 10-8 in a champions’ tie-break.
Djokovic Australia hope
Defending Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic has given the clearest indication yet that he will be travelling Down Under for the first grand slam of the year.
Tournament organisers have stipulated that players must either be vaccinated against Covid-19 or have a compelling reason to claim a medical exemption before travelling to Australia, and Djokovic has previously spoken about his hesitancy when it comes to mandatory vaccines.
He has declined to confirm whether he has indeed been vaccinated and pulled out of the ATP Cup last week, preferring to stay in Europe to train but raising fears he would not travel to Australia at all.
However, he has been spotted hitting in Spain and using Australian Open balls, a move that would make little sense if he were not planning on playing in Melbourne.
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