Emma Raducanu ‘proud’ and ‘in shock’ after making winning return from injury at Auckland Classic

Emma Raducanu beat Elena-Gabriela Ruse at the ASB Classic in Auckland in her first match after an eight-month injury layoff; Raducanu says she was “proud” and “in shock” after the victory; watch Raducanu’s last-16 clash with Elina Svitolina live on Sky Sports on Thursday

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It was an emotional moment for Raducanu as she made a winning comeback, defeating Romania’s Elena-Gabriela Ruse 6-3 4-6 7-5.

Emma Raducanu said she was “in shock” after making a winning return to competitive tennis after eight months out with injuries.

The 21-year-old Brit came through a hard-fought contest with Romania’s Elena-Gabriela Ruse to win 6-3 4-6 7-5 on Tuesday at the ASB Classic in Auckland.

Raducanu was making her first appearance on the WTA Tour since April having been absent after undergoing surgery on both of her wrists and her left ankle.

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“It’s a weird one, I didn’t really know what I felt during or at the end of the match,” Raducanu told Sky Sports.

“Usually you have such a clear emotion, whether that’s nerves, whether that’s happiness – I think I was just a bit like, just struck and just a bit in shock really because eight months is a long time.

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Raducanu says she’s grateful to be injury-free after eight months out of the game.

“I mean, I’ve really been through it, so it’s just great to be healthy and to be on the court and competing again.”

Raducanu’s absence has seen her drop to 298th in the world, while it was at the ASB Classic last year that she departed in tears after suffering an ankle injury.

Both Raducanu’s fitness and fight were fully tested by Ruse, who came back from losing the opening set to force a decider in a contest that lasted almost two-and-a-half hours.

Image: Emma Raducanu was pushed hard on her return to action

“I think it’s a match that really tested the fight, I think it’s a match that really tested the ability to stay calm under pressure and composed and keep being in the moment,” Raducanu said.

“So I think that overall for a first match back after so long, I think that in terms of just fighting and sticking in there in the tough moments, I really got the test times like 10.

“I think that I’ve always been a good competitor and that really came out today. It came out even though it’s been hiding for the last eight months. I still had it, which I was really proud of.

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There was some spectacular hitting Emma Raducanu in an epic rally during her clash with Ruse.

“The body held up really good. I’m really grateful and thank thanking everyone at the LTA, they helped me out so much physically.

“I felt really good on the court and it was nice and refreshing to be playing a match and not thinking of niggles, not thinking of injuries and actually just being able to focus on the tennis and what I wanted to do tactically and not hoping that the points are over quickly.

“I felt like I was there physically for however long the points kind of went. So that was a good feeling too.”

Facing Svitolina a ‘great opportunity’

The 21-year-old missed out on a wildcard for the Australian Open, meaning she will have to reach the tournament via qualifying – as she did on her run to a historic title at Flushing Meadows in 2021.

With qualifying in Melbourne starting on January 8, ahead of the main draw getting under way on January 14, Raducanu is aware of the importance of spending as much time as possible on court in Auckland.

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Raducanu gets a crucial double-break of serve in the deciding set against Ruse in Auckland.

“I think the first one is always difficult,” she said. “But the adrenaline that you get playing a match, it can’t be replicated doing anything in training or anything else in life really. So I’m looking forward to getting another dose of it.”

Having overcome world No 39 Ruse, Raducanu faces an even greater challenge on Thursday as she takes on world No 25 – and the tournament’s second seed – Elina Svitolina.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for me to play Elena,” Raducanu said.

“We’ve never played before, but she’s been at the top of the game for so long and I’m really looking forward to it because now that I’ve got my first match out of the system, I’m not saying the second one will be easy because it’s still relative and compared to all the other players I’m very light on matches, I think that I’m just really excited to test myself against one of the best.

“And I have nothing to lose, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Raducanu vs Svitolina will be on Sky Sports on Thursday morning. Stream tennis on Sky Sports without a contract through NOW

Sourse: skysports.com

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