British star Emma Raducanu is out of the ASB Classic – and in the worst way possible.
Raducanu was forced to retire from her second round match with Viktoria Kuzmova due to injury.
Playing on the indoor courts at Stanley street, due to the rain disruptions, the 2021 US Open champion twisted her left ankle at the start of the third set.
She stopped for extended treatment – and had her foot strapped – but was unable to complete the next point, before walking to the net to concede, in tears.
Before that the world No 78 had started brilliantly, taking the first set 6-0, as she dropped only four points on serve and managed three breaks.
But qualifier Kuzmova came back into the match, edging the second set 7-5, though both players had their chances.
It’s a potentially serious issue for Raducanu ahead of the Australian Open and a blow for the tournament, given she was a major drawcard and filled the stands for her first round match on Tuesday.
It may also raise some questions, as the courts inside the dome at the ASB Tennis Centre are not up to the same level as centre court.
Meanwhile, Coco Gauff is on the march in Auckland – and the ASB Classic top seed will take some stopping.
The world No 7 was highly impressive in a straight sets win over former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, prevailing 6-4, 6-4 in 84 minutes.
Kenin is showing signs of getting back to her form that saw her reach two major finals and can be a tricky opponent.
But Gauff gave her few openings, raising her levels when she needed to, with more clean winners (35-27) and almost half the number of unforced errors.
The 18-year-old has seemed in a good space since she arrived in Auckland and admitted this performance was a boost.
“The level of the match gives me a lot of confidence regardless of the win or loss,” said Gauff. “It wasn’t an easy match. Watching Sofia play the last couple tournaments at the end of the year, this is some of the best tennis she’s played in a while.”
With the rain disruptions, Gauff had a trying day, as the first scheduled match didn’t finish until after 7pm. She returned to the hotel for a nap, and then faced another wait.
“The tough part was just deciding when to eat or not,” said Gauff. “So I didn’t end up eating before the match. I just had lunch at 12.
“[But] I’m happy that I’m here and doing the things I love and I’m happy that the worst part of my day is waiting to play a match. I’m very thankful and blessed in the life that I live. So I don’t really complain about it.”
Gauff also had to adjust to the faster courts inside and playing in front of no spectators.
But she tends to take everything in her stride and has a maturity beyond her years.
“The match is a match,” said Gauff. “I don’t care if it’s indoor, outdoor. In Australia, you probably might have to play with the roof. Who knows? It’s the best preparation when you have to adjust quickly and adjust to circumstances that you don’t want to be in.”
This story first appeared in the New Zealand Herald and was republished with permission.