Auckland tournament director Nicolas Lamperin claims Emma Raducanu "had fun in New Zealand" despite a brutal end to her run and reveals the ASB Classic being willing to give the Briton a wildcard also played a part in the 21-year-old deciding to come to the tournament.
On Thursday, the ASB Classic announced that Raducanu will make her long-awaited return to tennis in Auckland between January 01-07. When addressing Raducanu's participation, Lamperin shared that the tournament was basically in touch with the 2021 US Open champion ever since she had three surgeries in May.
In 2023 January, Raducanu made her debut in Auckland, which ended with Raducanu retiring injured her round-of-16 match and leaving the court in tears after suffering an ankle injury. In her press conference, an annoyed Raducanu ripped the Auckland courts as "very slippery" and at that moment it looked as if the Briton would never contemplate playing again at the ASB Classic.
Auckland boss on how the ASB Classic landed Raducanu
“We kept in touch with Emma throughout the year. She decided to go for surgery in April, after Stuttgart and it was going to be a long process for her. When we touched base in early July, we didn’t have much of an update, because it was still in the early stage.
But we kept the dialogue going and said we know how it works, players who’ve been away from the Tour get a protected ranking. However, the number of tournaments they can do with their protected ranking is limited, so whenever they can get wildcards on top of their protected ranking it gives them longer to get back on the Tour.
That’s something which really helped the discussion. She was obviously in no rush, she wanted to make sure she was fully healthy and ready to come back. She loves this time of year. She had fun in New Zealand and despite the fact she had to retire this year, she was happy to come back," Lamperin said in a statement, via Stuff. Raducanu will certainly be hoping that her second Auckland appearance goes far better than her debut.