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Emma Raducanu: Australian Open performance against Coco Gauff leaves her feeling optimistic

Emma Raducanu: Australian Open performance against Coco Gauff leaves her feeling optimistic

Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 16-29 January
Coverage: Commentary every day from 07:00 GMT on BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra ‘Tennis Breakfast’ live from Melbourne, with selected live text commentaries and match reports on the BBC Sport website & app

Emma Raducanu has “no doubts” she can compete with the very best after pushing seventh seed Coco Gauff in a gallant defeat at the Australian Open.

The British number one rolled her ankle just 13 days before the second-round match, needing crutches and a protective boot afterwards.

“To say I’ve had so little prep, to go toe-to-toe with a player like Coco is a good achievement,” Raducanu, 20, said.

“The chances of me playing this tournament were very, very low.”

Raducanu tested world number seven Gauff, one of the tournament favourites, and had two set points to take the match into a decider before losing 6-3 7-6 (7-4).

Asked if it proved she could challenge the top players on a more regular basis, Raducanu said: “I have no doubt. I was competitive today and I’ve had five hours’ practice in the past two or three weeks since my last match.

“I don’t have any doubts about what I can do when I’m fully fit. I know my potential.”

Raducanu has struggled for fitness and form since her stunning triumph at the 2021 US Open as an unknown teenage qualifier.

Her first full season on the WTA Tour proved tough physically and she has dropped to 77th in the world rankings after being unable to string together a run of matches.

The ankle injury – a freak accident suffered at the Auckland Open in only her second match of the season – was the latest setback and came after a pre-season where she worked hard to build her body for the rigours of a long year.

Raducanu left the Auckland court in tears after retiring from her match against Slovakia’s Viktoria Kuzmova, knowing it put her participation at the opening Grand Slam event of the season in doubt.

“I would say all the chips were against us. I had extremely limited practice time, and I think I can say that now I’m not competing anymore,” she said.

“It was obviously going to be a push to get me on the court. I think 13 days ago if you would have told us ‘you’re going to be in the draw and win a round’, it would have been a massive effort for sure.”

Gauff, 18, was a considerable step up in class from Raducanu’s previous opponent Tamara Korpatsch and the Briton caused problems for last year’s French Open finalist with her aggressive approach, particularly in the second set.

Raducanu was a set and a…

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