Emma Raducanu believes there is more to come after her first-round victory over Shelby Rogers at the Australian Open, saying she finally trusts her body again after a frustrating spell on the sidelines.
Raducanu missed most of 2023 after undergoing wrist and ankle surgeries last May, sitting out three of the year’s four grand slams.
Almost 12 months on from her last major appearance, which came at the 2023 edition of the Australian Open, she made a triumphant return to Melbourne Park on Tuesday, seeing off Shelby in straight sets.
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The former US Open champion won a superb 91 per cent of points behind her first serve and didn’t concede a single break point in a dominant 6-3 6-2 success, against a player who she also beat en route to her stunning triumph at Flushing Meadows in 2021.
Speaking after the win, which teed up a second-round matchup against China’s Wang Yafan, Raducanu expanded on the work she had done to get back to peak condition.
“I do trust my body. I’ve done a lot of good work physically in the last few months,” she said. “The LTA have really helped me to build that foundation off the court and it’s just the beginning.
“I know there’s a lot of work to do. I do feel pretty comfortable in my body. It’s just about getting more matches under my belt and more familiarity with certain situations.”
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 16, 2024
Should Raducanu overcome Yafan on Thursday, she could tee up an enticing meeting with British number one Katie Boulter in the third round.
After her long stint on the sidelines, Raducanu was particularly keen to take in the energy of the Melbourne Park crowd, saying: “I think with it being my first grand slam match back, it is definitely a little bit extra sweet.
“People were watching from the gangways and the stadium was pretty full. I saw a lot of ‘Emma’ signs and heard a lot.
“It was very loud out there and I’m honestly so appreciative because I really missed that feeling of playing and interacting with the crowd.
“After the match I just wanted to really spend some time with them. I enjoy it and I definitely missed it while I was away.”