WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Former U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu says she feels “reborn” as she prepares to play her first match of 2024 at the Auckland tennis classic.
The 21-year-old Raducanu has been out of action since April after wrist and knee operations and says she feels reinvigorated at the start of a new season.
“I feel reborn in a way. I feel fresh,” the 2021 major winner told reporters. “I feel ready, I feel happy, I feel excited.
“So overall I’m feeling positive and lighter. For two years after the U.S. Open I felt maybe a bit more like with a weight on my shoulders, but now I feel completely fresh.”
Raducanu suffered an ankle injury in Auckland last year but played through the pain at the Australian Open. By April she had come to realize she had to take time out for surgery.
“I was having wrist pains for five months before I came to Auckland so I was managing it, keeping it going and under wraps as much as I could,” Raducanu said. “I knew it was inevitable if I wanted to fix the problem but I wanted to keep going through the season.
“I’m feeling a lot better now, I’m feeling stronger. I feel fitter, more positive and refreshed so I’m really looking forward to this year.”
Raducanu will play a qualifier in the first round of the Auckland tournament on Monday or Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the 2023 U.S. Open champ Coco Gauff is drawn to play American compatriot Claire Liu in the first round as she begins her 2024 season and defense of the Auckland singles title.
Caroline Wozniacki will play Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina in round one as she plays at the Auckland tournament for the eighth time. The 33-year-old made a strong comeback in 2023 after taking three years away from tennis to start a family.