Raducanu defies painful ankle injury & steps up practice days before Aus Open

Emma Raducanu has defied her painful ankle injury to complete a 90-minute training session on Wednesday just five days before the Australian Open.

The British No.1 was forced to retire from her second-round match against Viktoria Kuzmova at the ASB Classic in Auckland last week after rolling her left ankle and was spotted leaving the court in tears, later hitting out at the surface.

Raducanu suffered a grade one strain which usually has a recovery time of about two weeks – which means she would still be carrying the knock going into the first few matches of the Australian Open – which gets started on January 16.

The 20-year-old took part in her first training drills since the injury on Monday but stepped up preparations on Wednesday as she looks to build up her fitness and movement ahead of the first major tournament of the year.

Raducanu, currently ranked No.75 after an injury-plagued 2022, was spotted wearing white tape over the affected area as she practised hitting shots with coach Sebastian Sachs, although was not covering the wider areas of the court.

One particular shot the 2021 US Open champion could be seen working on was a backhand from a low squatting position – one of the most strenuous shots she will make after picking up the ankle problem – and was also practicing her serve.

Raducanu is not the only big name tennis star struggling with injury ahead of the Grand Slam with men’s singles favourite Novak Djokovic also suffering a scare ahead of his Melbourne Park opener.

Djokovic had to abandon his practice match against Daniil Medvedev on Wednesday after suffering an issue with his hamstring – receiving treatment from the physio three times.

‘It’s the hamstring that I had problems with in Adelaide last week against Medvedev when we played semi-finals,’ Djokovic told Australian outlet 9 News.

‘And I played with him again today in a practice match… I just felt it pulling a bit and I didn’t want to risk anything worse.

‘So I played a set and then apologised to him, he was understanding, so I just want to avoid any bigger scares before the Australian Open.’

Meanwhile, Marin Cilic has been forced to withdraw from the men’s singles through injury.

The 2014 US Open champion – also an Australian Open runner-up in 2018 – was due to be the 17th seed Down Under.

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