Emma Raducanu given last-minute Australian Open spot thanks to injury withdrawals

Emma Raducanu has earned direct entry into the main draw at the Australian Open following a number of late withdrawals.

The 2021 US Open champion made a winning return to the court at the ASB Classic in Auckland on Tuesday after being sidelined since April following operations on both her wrists and one ankle.

It appeared that Raducanu was going to be required to go through qualifying for the Australian Open due to her protected ranking – given to players who have been sidelined long-term – not being high enough.

However, the Australian Open announced in a post on X, formerly Twitter, on Wednesday that the 21-year-old would take the place of American Lauren Davis in the main draw after the American withdrew due to a shoulder injury.

Davis joins French Open finalist Karolina Muchova, Irina-Camelia Begu and Caty McNally on the withdrawal list.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova has also withdrawn from the tournament after announcing she is pregnant with her first child.

Having beaten Elena-Gabriela Ruse 6-3 4-6 7-5 on Tuesday to set up a tough last-16 tie against Elena Svitolina in Auckland, Raducanu was thrilled to finally be injury-free.

“It’s difficult after having such a long hiatus but I’m grateful to be healthy, I’m grateful to be able to move my body and not bedridden or in a wheelchair,” Raducanu said on court after victory in two hours and 27 minutes.

“It’s pretty amazing to just be out here and playing and I’m just really happy to be back on the tour and can’t wait to start this season and carry on hopefully injury-free and healthy.”