Emma Raducanu wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year
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Emma Raducanu will face a late change of opponent in the first round of her Australian Open warm-up at the Sydney Tennis Classic, after 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek was forced to withdraw.
Raducanu is in Sydney for some much needed game time ahead of the opening Grand Slam of the season later this month, having not featured in a competitive event since November last year.
However, there has been a slight change of plan to her Sydney Tennis Classic schedule after Swiatek was forced to pull out after picking up a rib injury.
In the world No 9’s place, Russian-born Kazakhstani Elena Rybakina will come in to take on Raducanu in the tournament opener instead.
Rybakina offers the British teenager yet another tough test, with Raducanu no doubt hoping to go as far as possible in the warm-up event in preparation for the Australian Open.
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The 19-year-old became an overnight sensation in September after being crowned US Open champion in record-breaking style, after defeating Leylah Fernadez in the Flushing Meadows final.
Raducanu made history in New York by becoming the first ever qualifier to win a Grand Slam event, and remarkably failed to drop a single set on route to her triumph.
However, things have not been as simple since then, as following her maiden Grand Slam victory four months ago Raducanu has played only five matches of competitive tennis, winning just two in that time ahead of her Australian venture.
Becoming a Grand Slam champion at 18 years old fired the youngster to the forefront of the tennis world overnight.
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Despite this, American great Pam Shriver believes it will take time before you see the Brit at the very top of her game.
Ahead of the festival of tennis down under, Shriver told the WTA website: “I think 2022 is going to continue to be a challenge for her.
“I think it’s going to be 2023 when we have a clearer idea of what her consistency level is going to be.
“I might be wrong, but it was such a sudden, unnatural step from qualifying to winning a major – never been done before – followed up by all these new business partnerships, recognition and coaching changes.”
Shriver also predicts it could be a tough year for Raducanu, with her ranking slightly fallking from her current No 19 spot.
She continued: “The only thing that has remained the same is her name, the sport she plays and her agent.
“I feel like everything else around her has changed, and when you’re a teenager you’re already going through a lot of changes.
“I’d be surprised if she’s still in the Top 20 at the end of the year.”
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