Emma Raducanu has cast doubt on her availability for Great Britain’s Billie Jean King Cup tie against France in April.

The former US Open champion has made only one senior appearance for her country, in a tie against the Czech Republic in 2022, missing the finals event later that year, last April’s defeat by France and November’s victory over Sweden because of her wrist problems.

GB captain Anne Keothavong was also unimpressed by Raducanu claiming she did not know when last year’s France tie was when asked about her possible participation.

There is no doubt that a fit Raducanu would strengthen Keothavong’s options for the France rematch on April 12-13, but the 21-year-old was cautious when asked whether the competition is a priority for her.

She said: “Of course I always love representing my country but, that being said, because of the amount of niggles and the rehab process, I think whatever suits my schedule and my fitness the best is going to have to take priority, especially this year.

“For example, if there’s a change in surface straightaway, too close in succession, I think I’d have to evaluate what I do. The most sensible thing for me is staying healthy. That’s the priority for the year.

“I can’t say either way. But my intention is good, I want to play.”

The tie will be played on indoor clay, which is the same surface as the following week’s tournament in Stuttgart, owned by Raducanu’s sponsor Porsche, that she has already committed to.

The 21-year-old had more physical problems in her second-round loss at the Australian Open to Wang Yafan on Thursday, but it was an unfortunately-timed stomach bug rather than any injury worry.

Raducanu was able to finish what was a long and physical match, and leaves Australia encouraged by the early stages of her comeback following operations on both wrists and one ankle last spring.

“I’m very positive, very happy with how my body is,” she said. “I think the wrist in particular was something that I struggled with in coming back because I just had a setback for a few months, so I couldn’t play until late November again really.

“Now I feel good. Ankle feels good. I think, if I keep my work consistent, I have a good shot. This is obviously only my first trip back.

“I think that tidying up some of the areas, tidying up a bit of technique and things, also just getting used to playing matches outdoors, as well, because the conditions were very windy.

“I think she (Wang) handled it a lot better, the wind. She junk-balled me. She moon-balled me. She gave me a lot of these scrappy little shots, but it worked. I need to spend more time on tour, spend more time training, and putting good weeks together.”

Raducanu is next expected to play at the Abu Dhabi Open, beginning on February 5, where she has been given a wild card.

Cameron Norrie is the only British singles player left in the Australian Open after a five-set win over Giulio Zeppieri in the second round.

British trio Emma Raducanu, Jack Draper and Katie Boulter all lost while Kazakh third seed Elena Rybakina became the biggest casualty of the tournament so far, losing an epic deciding tie-break against Anna Blinkova.

Women’s world number one Iga Swiatek almost went the same way but recovered to beat Danielle Collins while men’s second seed Carlos Alcaraz also progressed on a day Jessica Pegula and Holger Rune were knocked out.

Picture of the dayTweet of the day

Figures from across the tennis world have been paying tribute to the Daily Mail’s hugely respected tennis correspondent Mike Dickson, who died in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Stat of the dayShots of the dayBrady blow

American Jennifer Brady has been sidelined for the majority of the three years since she reached the Australian Open final in 2021, and she has now announced that she needs more surgery.

Medvedev’s dawn raid

Men’s third seed Daniil Medvedev looked to be heading out as he went two sets down to Emil Ruusuvuori.

But the Russian showed his fighting spirit and ensured it was a very early morning as he battled back to win in five sets, winning 3-6 6-7 (1) 6-4 7-6 (1) 6-0 just before 4am local time, with sunrise two hours away.

Friends reunited

 

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Fallen seeds

Women: Elena Rybakina (3), Jessica Pegula (5), Daria Kasatkina (14)
Men: Holger Rune (8), Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (23), Jan-Lennard Struff (24), Jiri Lehecka (32)

Who’s up next?

Novak Djokovic will attempt to find his form when he takes on dangerous Argentinian Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the third round on Friday.

Women’s defending champion Aryna Sabalenka faces Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko while Coco Gauff takes on fellow American Alycia Parks.

Jannik Sinner has been the most impressive of the leading men so far and he meets 26th seed Sebastian Baez.

Emma Raducanu struggled with a stomach bug during a marathon second-round loss to Wang Yafan at the Australian Open.

The former US Open champion, playing only her fourth match since returning from eight months out and three surgeries, had battled back strongly from a set and a break down to force a decider.

But Raducanu then began to show a lot of discomfort, clutching at her chest and abdomen before calling the trainer two games in.

She had her blood pressure checked and took some pills before resuming, and she battled hard to try to turn the match around but Wang held firm to win 6-4 4-6 6-4 after two hours and 55 minutes.

It appeared Raducanu was struggling with her breathing but she revealed in her press conference that she was feeling sick having gone into the contest under the weather.

“I think I just had a bit of a stomach bug beforehand,” she said. “Now I feel a little bit better. I had some time.

“During the match, third set I was 30-0 up serving. Then all of a sudden I just felt so sick, just really weak and nauseous. Throughout the third set I think everyone could see it was a bit of a battle.

“Like physically, body-wise, I felt fine. It was more I was throwing up in my mouth. Then after the match, it came out. Now I’m OK. I’ll get over it. It just sucks with the timing.

“I was actually feeling good about my tennis. Mentally, I don’t know why, I just felt really composed the entire time. Even in the first set when I was making a ton of errors with the wind, I kind of always had this feeling that I was coming back, just tidy up the errors. I felt pretty composed throughout.”

Raducanu is no stranger to medical time-outs and retirements but she was determined to keep going this time.

“I’ve been in that situation before in matches, whether it was with illness or injury, and retired a few times,” she said.

“With what I went through last year, you feel awful right now, at some points I couldn’t really see the ball very well, but I think it’s made me so much tougher. There was no way I was going to pull out. She was going to have to beat me, and she did. She served it out.”

Raducanu’s exit followed those of Katie Boulter and Jack Draper and means Cameron Norrie, who battled from two sets down earlier to beat Giulio Zeppieri, is the only British player through to the third round.

Raducanu comfortably won her first-round match against Shelby Rogers, but the American looked very rusty after a long break herself which made it difficult to gauge the 21-year-old’s true level.

This was a much bigger test, with Wang a former top-50 player now ranked 94 who is still working her way back up the game after choosing not to travel amid China’s restrictive Covid policies.

The 29-year-old’s game initially held up better than Raducanu’s in the breezy conditions and she looked in control at one set and 2-0 up, at which point the British player cut down her errors and fought her way back into the contest.

She broke to lead 5-3 with a sizzling cross-court winner but tentativeness crept in as she tried to serve out the set, with two chances going begging.

Raducanu did not let the disappointment affect her, though, and refused to be hesitant when more chances arrived on Wang’s serve, drilling a backhand winner to clinch a mammoth 65-minute set.

At that stage it appeared Raducanu was the favourite but her physical issues quickly became apparent and she was unable to turn the match back around in her favour.

She leaves Australia greatly encouraged for what is to come, though, saying: “There were doubts whether I would be able to make the Australian Open trip.

“I think that to be here is a bonus, a good starting point I would say, because I started putting good practice sessions together with (coach) Nick (Cavaday), we’re doing good work off the court.

“I’m feeling very positive. I really just want to play a full season. The encouraging thing is, even though I played two back-to-back three-setters in Auckland, a three-setter today, body-wise, strength-wise, I didn’t come up with any random niggles.

“It was just me throwing up. That’s fine. That’s not normal, but it’s like a one-off.”

Emma Raducanu suffered more physical difficulties in a second-round Australian Open exit to China’s Wang Yafan.

The former US Open champion, playing only her fourth match since returning from eight months out and three surgeries, had battled back strongly from a set and a break down to force a deciding set.

But Raducanu then appeared to struggle with breathing difficulties, clutching at her chest and abdomen before calling the trainer after two games.

She had her blood pressure checked and took some pills before resuming, and she battled hard to try to turn the match around but Wang held firm to win 6-4 4-6 6-4 after two hours and 55 minutes.

Raducanu’s exit followed those of Katie Boulter and Jack Draper and means Cameron Norrie, who battled from two sets down earlier to beat Giulio Zeppieri, is the only British player through to the third round.

Raducanu comfortably won her first-round match against Shelby Rogers, but the American looked very rusty after a long break herself which made it difficult to gauge the 21-year-old’s true level.

This was a much bigger test, with Wang a former top-50 player now ranked 94 who is still working her way back up the game after choosing not to travel amid China’s restrictive Covid policies.

The 29-year-old’s game initially held up better than Raducanu’s in the breezy conditions and she opened a 5-2 lead in the first set.

The match was again being played on the relatively small 1573 Arena, and queues stretched from each entrance with fans eager to watch the contest.

Raducanu had the majority of the support, and she sparked hopes of a comeback by winning consecutive games to make it 5-4, but Wang served it out at the second time of asking.

There were too many errors off the racket of the British player, and she dropped serve again at the start of the second set.

But Raducanu dug in and gradually began to find her range, finally taking her fifth break point in a long fourth game to draw level.

The 21-year-old is determined to stick to an aggressive game plan following her comeback and her forehand was now looking the dominant shot.

She broke to lead 5-3 with a sizzling cross-court winner but tentativeness crept in as she tried to serve out the set, with two chances going begging.

Raducanu did not let the disappointment affect her, though, and refused to be hesitant when more chances arrived on Wang’s serve, drilling a backhand winner to clinch a mammoth 65-minute set.

Both players took a bathroom break but that did not alleviate the discomfort Raducanu was feeling, and there was doubt over whether she would be able to continue.

She improved physically again as the match went on and will feel she could have turned the set around but a final backhand into the net signalled her demise.

Emma Raducanu will hope to maintain the same air of calm that accompanied her grand slam comeback when she takes to the court again for her second-round match at the Australian Open.

The 19-year-old was handed a kind draw against American Shelby Rogers, who was playing her first competitive tennis for six months, but negotiated the hurdle with a minimum of fuss in a 6-3 6-2 victory.

Raducanu’s spell out of the sport following triple surgery has given a chance for the circus surrounding her to die down, while she has a new yet familiar coach in the shape of Nick Cavaday, who she first worked with as a 10-year-old.

 “I think it’s pretty calm now,” she said. “It’s nice to be with Nick. I’ve known him since I was a kid, feel very comfortable there. Just all aspects really of my life I feel like are calming down and settled.

“Obviously when you come back after eight months, have experienced three surgeries, you’re just really grateful to be able to move freely.”

The 21-year-old has not been beyond the second round at a slam since her US Open triumph in 2021 but has a good opportunity here against 94th-ranked Chinese player Wang Yafan, where she will again be on her favourite 1573 Arena.

Should she win that one, she could find herself facing fellow British star Katie Boulter, although she has a tough draw against the top Chinese player, 12th seed Zheng Qinwen.

There was nothing straightforward about Jack Draper’s first Melbourne win, the 22-year-old struggling physically against Marcos Giron before fighting back to triumph in five sets and then immediately vomiting into a bin at the side of the court.

He later said that he thought the issue was largely related to the stress of performing on the big stage, something he hopes will change with experience.

Raducanu, who grew up alongside Draper as the big hopes of British tennis, believes it is a double-edged sword, saying: “I’ve been in situations serving out the US Open, serving out sets at the US Open in probably the most high-pressure scenarios you’ll ever get.

“It really doesn’t get easier, to be honest. I think you always are going to have an element of nerves, always going to have that stress.

“I think, the more matches you play, the more comfortable you feel in those scenarios because the more experience you have to anchor and pull back your feelings from.

“I think just getting on a roll of matches helps. I think I deal with match scenarios pretty well. I keep my cool.”

Draper was optimistic of recovering well for his next match, where he will be reunited with American 14th seed Tommy Paul.

The pair have met twice before, both in Adelaide, with the most recent match coming last week, when Draper triumphed 6-1 6-4.

“He’s obviously a great player,” said Draper. “First tournament of the year, maybe guys aren’t quite finding their game yet. The match I played against him, I was really solid. I played great tennis. But obviously five sets is different.

“It seems like he does well in the slams pretty regularly. He’s always in the fourth round, or I think he made semis here last year. He’s obviously playing well and likes the conditions.

“I think it definitely does help, though, having played him twice and obviously won twice. If that was me, then I would be a bit more fearful. But it will be a tough match, and he’ll be wanting to get some revenge on me for sure.”

British number one Cameron Norrie also has revenge on his mind ahead of his second-round clash with Italian qualifier Giulio Zeppieri.

Their only previous meeting came on clay in Rome back in 2020, when Norrie won just four games.

The 28-year-old has moved his career on hugely since then but remains wary, saying: “He’s a young, talented player, lefty. I watched the end of his match. He played really well.

“He competes really well. Kind of plays a little bit similar to me. But it’s definitely going to be a tough match. Looking for some revenge from last time, because he beat me really easily.”

Emma Raducanu made a convincing grand-slam return with victory over Shelby Rogers in the first round of the Australian Open.

Playing her first major tournament since a second-round exit to Coco Gauff here last year following surgery on both wrists and one ankle, the 21-year-old produced an assured performance to beat the American 6-3 6-2.

A packed arena showed how much interest there is in Raducanu’s comeback, and this was the sort of routine win she will hope to achieve regularly throughout the season.

She is yet to reach the third round in Melbourne but looks to have a good chance ahead of a second-round clash with China’s Wang Yafan on Thursday.

Raducanu has spoken a lot over the past couple of weeks about seeing this comeback as a reset following her US Open triumph and the hoopla that followed.

It was somewhat ironic, therefore, that the draw pitted her against one of the players she beat during that incredible New York fortnight.

Rogers had knocked out Ashleigh Barty in the third round but was swatted aside by Raducanu, the British player dropping just three games.

Rogers has taken her own break from the sport having not played a match since Wimbledon because of knee surgery and an abdominal problem before she got married last month.

Ranked down at 161 as a consequence, this was one of the kinder openers Raducanu could have had, and Rogers clearly looked rusty during the opening set.

Raducanu settled well, though, balancing the aggressive game she is determined to stick to with a need for consistency and she did not face a break point throughout the contest.

Raducanu moved well, served strongly and showed good touch at the net and on a couple of drop shots.

Having broken Rogers’ serve in the fourth game, she did so again to open the second set before consolidating her advantage despite a brief disruption while a ball girl tried to escort a bug from the court.

Another break followed and Raducanu confidently served out the match to love before clenching her fist and waving to all sides of the court.

Emma Raducanu was left unable to do simple tasks after three surgeries last spring, but the 21-year-old believes the enforced break from tennis could be the making of her.

Coping with the instant global fame and expectations that accompanied her remarkable US Open victory in 2021 proved very difficult for Raducanu, who had slipped outside the top 100 when she revealed she needed operations on both wrists and one ankle.

The recovery has not been straightforward, with the Kent player finally able to make her comeback last week in Auckland after eight months on the sidelines.

 

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She cut a noticeably more relaxed and happy figure, and she told the PA news agency: “I would say I would take the place that I’m in now mentally and physically and trade it for the past eight months on the tour.

“Missing that time, it obviously was really difficult in the moment, and seeing the tournaments go on, but I would have done it again if I had to.”

Raducanu spoke on Friday about feeling like she was carrying around a “backpack of rocks” as she tried to build on her history-making success.

“It was like it was glued on,” she added. “I think now it’s completely off, I feel good, I feel better and ready to take this second chance at being on the tour again.”

Now able to look back and reflect on the decisions she has made since lifting the trophy at Flushing Meadows, Raducanu’s one regret is not giving herself more time.

A swift loss in her opening match in Indian Wells at her next tournament set the tone for a year and a half of struggle.

“I probably would have taken some more time off to rest and then to train because I feel like I had a lot of things straight after the US Open and then Indian Wells was right around the corner, so I kind of rushed straight into it with minimal practice and it was a bit of a spiral from there,” she said.

Coincidentally, Raducanu’s grand slam return at the Australian Open on Tuesday will be against American Shelby Rogers, whom she beat in the fourth round in New York.

 

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Rogers is also coming off a period of inactivity after knee surgery, an abdominal injury and a December wedding.

The 31-year-old is not surprised that time away has helped Raducanu’s mindset, saying: “I think sometimes it’s difficult to keep that perspective week to week.

“Especially if you don’t have your identity rooted somewhere outside of tennis, you’re sort of living and dying with wins and losses. It can be really difficult.

“It’s really nice to hear that she’s feeling refreshed and has that perspective again. I think it’s really important for especially the younger players to keep that.”

Accompanying Raducanu in Melbourne is new coach Nick Cavaday, who she originally worked with a decade ago.

Raducanu has returned to the tour with a determination to play her aggressive game style having felt she had unintentionally moved away from that.

Much has been made of the frequent changes in her coaching set-up, and she said: “I think it’s different styles of training, different styles of coaching. I think I play my best when I’m instinctive and free, and to be able to do that I need to put the time in on the practice court.

“I felt like I was chasing my tail a bit from tournament to tournament, and I wasn’t really doing the blocks of work in between, so I think just pausing and doing those physical things and on the practice court is something I’m going to do more of this year.

“With Nick, we both are very much aligned with how we see my tennis and my potential but potential is one thing so we have to do the work. I’m looking forward to doing it with him to get there. I need to be aggressive but find a balance, not just being a bull in a china shop.”

Coaching instability and Raducanu’s commercial activities have been central to the criticism that has rained down on her post-US Open.

Raducanu’s career continues to attract significant attention from far beyond the tennis world, and she said with a smile: “I guess I should feel flattered that they’re speaking about me.

“I think it affected me more straight after when I was a bit younger. Now I think I’m getting more and more immunised to it the more it goes on.”

The first British player in action on Sunday will be Jodie Burrage, who is making her debut in the main draw and will face German Tamara Korpatsch.

Emma Raducanu believes she is “too good” not to get back to the top of the game – if she can stay fit.

The 21-year-old will play a grand-slam match for the first time in a year when she takes on American Shelby Rogers in the opening round of the Australian Open.

Triple surgery on both wrists and one ankle put Raducanu off the tour for eight months but she gave a reminder of what a high-class tennis player she is in her comeback tournament in Auckland last week.

The biggest question mark remains the robustness of Raducanu’s body, and she pulled out of two exhibition matches this week with soreness following a long practice session on Monday.

 

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Any fears about her participation in Melbourne have since been allayed, and she said: “Physically I feel good. I did a lot of good work in the off-season.

“But I think that, regardless of how good I may feel on the court on a particular day or in practice, I think to get that level of consistency is going to require more time.

“I’ve been doing the right work, doing it consistently. I just need to keep going more and more. But I feel good on court and in the gym.”

Raducanu is currently ranked down at 299 as a result of her long break, although she can enter tournaments using her protected ranking from before surgery of 103.

“I think success to me in the long-term is, for the rest of the year, to play a full season, to be healthy throughout, to be able to train consistent weeks,” she said.

“I know my level is there, I just need to keep working on it to make it more consistent. I think that will come with time in the gym, time on court, being able to play the calendar, not thinking about ‘Will I have to pull out from this one, does that hurt’?

“I think my level, to be honest, is just too good not to come through if I put consistent work together.”

Raducanu practised with British duo Katie Boulter and Jodie Burrage on Friday and earned rave reviews from both.

“I think it’s absolutely incredible what she’s doing,” said Boulter. “To come back with that level already, it’s inspirational.

“You know how long it took me to get back (from injury). It really isn’t easy, trust me. It’s not something that you can just pick up like that. It seems like she’s playing very, very well. I’m sure it’s going to be a great year for her. I’m expecting big things.”

Without a coach for most of her recovery, Raducanu is in Melbourne with Nick Cavaday, who she previously worked with between the ages of 10 and 12.

Raducanu hopes it will prove a good fit, saying: “We’re just taking it how it goes. It’s been working really well so far.

“I, of course, hope to continue with him because I feel very comfortable with him. I know his sister (former British player Naomi Cavaday) really well because, like, everyone is from Bromley.”

 

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Cavaday previously coached Dominic Inglot and Aljaz Bedene before heading up the Lawn Tennis Association’s national academy in Loughborough.

There is no indication Raducanu will look to add a full-time fitness trainer or physio to her team, with the former US Open champion keen to keep a tight circle around her.

She cuts a much happier figure than for most of the period post her New York triumph, and she said: “I feel a lot lighter now than I did for a long time after US Open. I feel like I’m not playing with a backpack of rocks. I feel pretty light and happy.

“Reflecting on the past, I think people are very important. I think surrounding yourself with competent and knowledgeable people is of course really important, but also the type of person and their character is big-time, just making sure we really get on and intentions are really good.”

Emma Raducanu will make her grand slam return against American Shelby Rogers at the Australian Open.

Rogers was one of the players Raducanu, who is playing her first major tournament for a year following surgery on both wrists and one ankle, beat on her way to the US Open title in 2021.

Raducanu made a positive return in Auckland last week, pushing Elina Svitolina in the second round before tiring, but alarm bells began ringing when she pulled out of first an exhibition match at Melbourne Park on Tuesday and then another exhibition at the Kooyong Classic on Thursday.

 

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However, Raducanu’s team insisted both were precautionary after she felt some soreness following a practice session on Monday and she practised for two hours at Melbourne Park on Thursday.

Raducanu looked relaxed and happy hitting with fellow British player Lily Miyazaki under the guidance of coach Nick Cavaday, with no strapping or obvious signs of discomfort.

Rogers is a kind draw on paper with the 31-year-old also coming off a long break having not played since Wimbledon and ranked down at 156.

All the British women avoided seeds in the first round, with Katie Boulter drawing China’s Yuan Yue and Jodie Burrage taking on German Tamara Korpatsch.

An intriguing women’s draw was headlined by top seed Iga Swiatek taking on 2020 champion Sofia Kenin, with the winner to play either another past winner in the returning Angelique Kerber or former finalist Danielle Collins.

Four-time grand slam champion Swiatek is the only one of that quartet who is yet to reach the final in Melbourne, although she will be a strong favourite to come through.

Naomi Osaka, who like Kerber is returning after having a baby, makes her grand slam comeback against 16th seed Caroline Garcia while reigning champion Aryna Sabalenka faces a qualifier.

Caroline Wozniacki’s first match in Melbourne since her retirement here in 2020 will be against 20th seed Magda Linette, with the Dane having returned to the sport last summer, reaching the fourth round of the US Open.

Andy Murray was the only British player to draw a seed, with the five-time former finalist taking on 25th-rated Argentinian Tomas Martin Etcheverry.

Should the Scot make the third round, he would expect to find himself up against top seed Novak Djokovic, who will open against a qualifier.

Cameron Norrie, the only British seed at 19, faces Peru’s Juan Pablo Varillas, with Jack Draper meeting American Marcos Giron and Dan Evans playing Italian Lorenzo Sonego.

Fourth seed Jannik Sinner was drawn in the top half as a potential semi-final opponent for Djokovic while Carlos Alcaraz and third seed Daniil Medvedev are in the bottom half.

Emma Raducanu will no longer take part in the Kooyong Classic on Thursday.

The former US Open champion was set to take on 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva in the Melbourne suburbs but is not featured on Thursday’s schedule of play.

She withdrew from a charity match earlier in the week and was reported to have been feeling “sore” following practice on Monday.

Raducanu will continue to prepare for the Australian Open, which will be just her second tournament back from wrist and ankle surgery which decimated her 2023 season.

The Brit, currently ranked 299 but using a protected ranking for the first grand slam of the year, made her comeback in Auckland last week, losing in the second round to Elina Svitolina.

Raducanu has had a raft of injury problems since her breakthrough win in 2021 and ended last week’s match with Svitolina with strapping on her right leg.

The 21-year-old has since trained at Melbourne Park ahead of next week’s tournament, where she is in the main draw.

Emma Raducanu and Andy Murray are among seven British players who have secured direct entry into the Australian Open.

Cameron Norrie is the only seed while Katie Boulter and Jodie Burrage are in the main draw on ranking for the first time.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the British contenders.

Cameron Norrie

The Mr Dependable of British tennis struggled during the second half of last season and admitted he felt a little burned out. Norrie does not have the luxury of a big weapon if his consistent game is not working but there were positive signs at last week’s United Cup, where he beat Alex De Minaur, that he may be close to finding his form again.

Dan Evans

Evans will be unseeded at a grand slam for the first time since 2019 after an inconsistent 2023 campaign ended prematurely by a calf injury. He is fit again and will be keen to try to climb back into the top 30. Now 33, Evans won the biggest title of his career in Washington last summer and also starred for Britain in the Davis Cup.

Andy Murray

It is 12 months since Murray’s extraordinary 4am victory over Thanasi Kokkinakis at Melbourne Park. His performances at the beginning of 2023 fuelled hope that he could push back towards the top of the game but it was largely a season of more frustration. There have been flashes of the old Murray but, at 36, time is very much running out.

Jack Draper

Could this be the year where Draper really makes a name for himself? The 22-year-old has been held back so far by injuries and missed a lot of last season but finished strongly and has all the tools to reach the very top of the game. A run to the fourth round of the US Open last summer is his best grand-slam showing so far.

Emma Raducanu

A raft of withdrawals have allowed Raducanu direct entry using the protected ranking of 103 from before her triple surgery. The hope is this can be a fresh start for the 21-year-old, who looked happy and relaxed on her return to the tour in Auckland last week, and showed in a close defeat to Elina Svitolina that she remains a high-class player.

Katie Boulter

Last season was by a distance the best of Boulter’s career. The 27-year-old won her maiden WTA Tour title in Nottingham and broke into the world’s top 50 for the first time. A supremely clean ball-striker, Boulter claimed the best win of her career over fifth-ranked Jessica Pegula at the United Cup last week for a dream start to 2024.

Jodie Burrage

Beaten by Boulter in the final in Nottingham, Burrage also achieved a long-term goal in 2023 by breaking into the top 100 for the first time. The 24-year-old will make her main-draw debut at Melbourne Park having fallen in the final round of qualifying 12 months ago.

Opportunities abound for returning stars and the usual suspects as the Australian Open kicks off the new grand-slam season.

Hopes that two of the highest-profile major champions would make their slam comebacks after long breaks were dashed when Rafael Nadal announced on Sunday that he had suffered another injury setback.

Having spent a year recovering from the hip injury he sustained in Melbourne 12 months ago, the hope is this latest blow will not prove to be nearly as serious and he can return within weeks.

The Spaniard impressed straight away with his level at the Brisbane International last week prior to a gruelling loss against Jordan Thompson.

 

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Question marks very much remain, though, over how well the 37-year-old’s body will hold up in the long term given the injury problems he has endured throughout his career.

“I have worked very hard during the year for this comeback and as I always mentioned my goal is to be at my best level in three months,” Nadal wrote on social media.

“Within the sad news for me for not being able to play in front of the amazing Melbourne crowds, this is not very bad news and we all remain positive with the evolution for the season.”

Naomi Osaka also returned in Brisbane, playing her first tournament since September 2022 following the birth of daughter Shai in July, and she will be a headline attraction in Melbourne.

 

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The 26-year-old, who won the Australian Open title in 2019 and 2021, was weighing up whether tennis was for her amid mental health struggles prior to her pregnancy but has returned to the tour with renewed desire.

She said after a narrow loss to Karolina Pliskova: “I think when I’m playing and I’m at my best, I’m just really putting my entire soul into every point. It was fun to play that and rediscover that feeling again.”

Also returning after having her first child is former Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open champion Angelique Kerber.

Emma Raducanu’s absence has not been as long as Nadal, Osaka or Kerber’s but it is still a chance for a fresh start for the 21-year-old.

 

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She snuck into the main draw using her protected ranking of 103 following withdrawals and will hope to build on a very promising return in Auckland last week.

“It’s pretty exciting for me,” said Raducanu. “I’ve only played two matches and also my court time has been pretty limited. To be back up to this speed after so little is a great sign. I’m looking forward to this season. It’s just the beginning. A lot more to come.”

Raducanu is one of seven British players in the main draw, with Cameron Norrie the only seed.

It was a difficult second half of 2023 for the British number one but victory over Alex De Minaur at the United Cup was a good way to start the year while Katie Boulter got off to a flyer with the best win of her career against Jessica Pegula.

The 27-year-old has reached the third round at the last two grand slams and will be looking for more of the same.

Andy Murray is a man in need of wins and must hope for a kind draw, while the same could lead to a big fortnight for 22-year-old Jack Draper, with Dan Evans and Jodie Burrage making up the British contingent.

Novak Djokovic will be favourite to claim an 11th Australian Open title, which would make him the first player in history to win 25 grand-slam singles crowns, although a wrist problem is a concern for the Serbian.

Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner and Daniil Medvedev will be expected to provide the main opposition while in the women’s draw Aryna Sabalenka defends a slam title for the first time.

World number one Iga Swiatek is yet to lift the trophy in Melbourne and has begun 2024 in fine form, as has Coco Gauff, who is the most recent slam champion following her triumph in New York.

Emma Raducanu and Andy Murray are among seven British players who have secured direct entry into the Australian Open.

Cameron Norrie is the only seed while Katie Boulter and Jodie Burrage are in the main draw on ranking for the first time.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the British contenders.

Cameron Norrie

The Mr Dependable of British tennis struggled during the second half of last season and admitted he felt a little burned out. Norrie does not have the luxury of a big weapon if his consistent game is not working but there were positive signs at last week’s United Cup, where he beat Alex De Minaur, that he may be close to finding his form again.

Dan Evans

Evans will be unseeded at a grand slam for the first time since 2019 after an inconsistent 2023 campaign ended prematurely by a calf injury. He is fit again and will be keen to try to climb back into the top 30. Now 33, Evans won the biggest title of his career in Washington last summer and also starred for Britain in the Davis Cup.

Andy Murray

It is 12 months since Murray’s extraordinary 4am victory over Thanasi Kokkinakis at Melbourne Park. His performances at the beginning of 2023 fuelled hope that he could push back towards the top of the game but it was largely a season of more frustration. There have been flashes of the old Murray but, at 36, time is very much running out.

Jack Draper

Could this be the year where Draper really makes a name for himself? The 22-year-old has been held back so far by injuries and missed a lot of last season but finished strongly and has all the tools to reach the very top of the game. A run to the fourth round of the US Open last summer is his best grand-slam showing so far.

Emma Raducanu

A raft of withdrawals have allowed Raducanu direct entry using the protected ranking of 103 from before her triple surgery. The hope is this can be a fresh start for the 21-year-old, who looked happy and relaxed on her return to the tour in Auckland last week, and showed in a close defeat to Elina Svitolina that she remains a high-class player.

Katie Boulter

Last season was by a distance the best of Boulter’s career. The 27-year-old won her maiden WTA Tour title in Nottingham and broke into the world’s top 50 for the first time. A supremely clean ball-striker, Boulter claimed the best win of her career over fifth-ranked Jessica Pegula at the United Cup last week for a dream start to 2024.

Jodie Burrage

Beaten by Boulter in the final in Nottingham, Burrage also achieved a long-term goal in 2023 by breaking into the top 100 for the first time. The 24-year-old will make her main-draw debut at Melbourne Park having fallen in the final round of qualifying 12 months ago.

Opportunities abound for returning stars and the usual suspects as the Australian Open kicks off the new grand-slam season.

Hopes that two of the highest-profile major champions would make their slam comebacks after long breaks were dashed when Rafael Nadal announced on Sunday that he had suffered another injury setback.

Having spent a year recovering from the hip injury he sustained in Melbourne 12 months ago, the hope is this latest blow will not prove to be nearly as serious and he can return within weeks.

The Spaniard impressed straight away with his level at the Brisbane International last week prior to a gruelling loss against Jordan Thompson.

 

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Question marks very much remain, though, over how well the 37-year-old’s body will hold up in the long term given the injury problems he has endured throughout his career.

“I have worked very hard during the year for this comeback and as I always mentioned my goal is to be at my best level in three months,” Nadal wrote on social media.

“Within the sad news for me for not being able to play in front of the amazing Melbourne crowds, this is not very bad news and we all remain positive with the evolution for the season.”

Naomi Osaka also returned in Brisbane, playing her first tournament since September 2022 following the birth of daughter Shai in July, and she will be a headline attraction in Melbourne.

 

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The 26-year-old, who won the Australian Open title in 2019 and 2021, was weighing up whether tennis was for her amid mental health struggles prior to her pregnancy but has returned to the tour with renewed desire.

She said after a narrow loss to Karolina Pliskova: “I think when I’m playing and I’m at my best, I’m just really putting my entire soul into every point. It was fun to play that and rediscover that feeling again.”

Also returning after having her first child is former Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open champion Angelique Kerber.

Emma Raducanu’s absence has not been as long as Nadal, Osaka or Kerber’s but it is still a chance for a fresh start for the 21-year-old.

 

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She snuck into the main draw using her protected ranking of 103 following withdrawals and will hope to build on a very promising return in Auckland last week.

“It’s pretty exciting for me,” said Raducanu. “I’ve only played two matches and also my court time has been pretty limited. To be back up to this speed after so little is a great sign. I’m looking forward to this season. It’s just the beginning. A lot more to come.”

Raducanu is one of seven British players in the main draw, with Cameron Norrie the only seed.

It was a difficult second half of 2023 for the British number one but victory over Alex De Minaur at the United Cup was a good way to start the year while Katie Boulter got off to a flyer with the best win of her career against Jessica Pegula.

The 27-year-old has reached the third round at the last two grand slams and will be looking for more of the same.

Andy Murray is a man in need of wins and must hope for a kind draw, while the same could lead to a big fortnight for 22-year-old Jack Draper, with Dan Evans and Jodie Burrage making up the British contingent.

Novak Djokovic will be favourite to claim an 11th Australian Open title, which would make him the first player in history to win 25 grand-slam singles crowns, although a wrist problem is a concern for the Serbian.

Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner and Daniil Medvedev will be expected to provide the main opposition while in the women’s draw Aryna Sabalenka defends a slam title for the first time.

World number one Iga Swiatek is yet to lift the trophy in Melbourne and has begun 2024 in fine form, as has Coco Gauff, who is the most recent slam champion following her triumph in New York.

The new year’s first grand slam kicks off in Melbourne on Sunday.

The Australian Open has a new timetable and plenty of familiar faces returning to its blue courts.

Here, the PA news agency picks out five talking points.

Late nights a thing of the past?

For the first time, the tournament will mimic the French Open and start on a Sunday, becoming a 15-day event. Organisers insist the primary motivation is to prevent matches going on until the early hours, which has become routine, with fewer contests scheduled across the day on Rod Laver Arena and Margaret Court Arena. But there will still be two per night session and, with matches lasting ever longer, it seems unlikely to make a big difference.

Former champions return

 

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No fewer than three past winners at Melbourne Park were due to make their comebacks after long absences. An untimely muscle injury suffered on his return to action in Brisbane has unfortunately sidelined Rafael Nadal, who has not played in a grand slam since sustaining a hip problem in Melbourne 12 months ago. But two-time champion Naomi Osaka returns following the birth of daughter Shai last summer with an apparent renewed hunger for life on tour while 2016 winner Angelique Kerber is another new mother back for more.

Raducanu revitalised

 

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Could Emma Raducanu’s eight-month break following surgery on both wrists and one ankle turn out to be the making of her? Stepping out of the whirlwind that engulfed following her 2021 US Open win has given the 21-year-old the chance for a fresh start and will hopefully allow her to establish a more solid base. She has turned to childhood coach Nick Cavaday for guidance but continues to travel without a full-time physio or fitness trainer. She gave a reminder of her talent in an encouraging first tournament back in Auckland last week but the major question mark remains whether her body can hold up to the rigours of the professional game.

Last hurrah for Murray?

 

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Andy Murray conjured up two of his more memorable wins in Australia last year, seeing off Matteo Berrettini in five sets and then somehow fighting back to defeat Thanasi Kokkinakis at 4am. The Scot played at his best level since hip surgery in 2023 yet it was another season of frustration and near misses rather than the sort of achievements he craves. Murray cut a particularly unhappy figure at the end of the year and is openly talking about how long he has left. If this is the 36-year-old’s last appearance at Melbourne Park, hopefully it will be one to remember for the right reasons.

Swiatek v Sabalenka

The battle for supremacy in the women’s game rolls into a new year. Aryna Sabalenka is the defending champion having lifted her first grand slam title 12 months ago and she outperformed Iga Swiatek at the majors in 2023 by reaching two finals and two semi-finals. But the Pole reclaimed the world number one ranking with a dominant performance at the WTA Finals and remains the player to beat. Throw Coco Gauff into the mix, now a grand slam champion after defeating Sabalenka in New York, and an intriguing fortnight awaits.

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