Emma Raducanu’s injury woes of last season continued into 2023 as she pulled out of her second match of the year at the ASB Classic with an ankle injury.
Raducanu did not drop a game on her way to winning the first set against Viktoria Kuzmova but the Slovakian fought back in a far tighter second set, which she won 7-5.
The Briton turned her left ankle going for a ball late in that set and needed treatment. The 20-year-old returned to court with the ankle heavily strapped but withdrew from the match in tears after just one more point.
Raducanu’s first full season on the WTA Tour had been curtailed by injury and was eventually brought to a premature end by a wrist issue.
But this freak injury now casts a doubt over her participation in the first Grand Slam of the season, the Australian Open, which gets under way in Melbourne in 11 days’ time.
Raducanu had enjoyed a promising start at her first tournament of the year in Auckland, recovering from losing the first set to defeat Linda Fruhvirtova and win that first-round match.
Against Kuzmova, she was ruthless from the outset as her opponent struggled to make any inroads, not winning a single point on her second serve all set.
The omens were good for Raducanu to make a sixth career quarter-final but her rival returned to court a player transformed in the second set.
Raducanu had no shortage of chances to break but spurned opportunities in three consecutive service games while Kuzmova took her chance when it offered itself up to break and moved into a 3-2 lead.
The former US Open champion finally got the break to level at 5-5, a double fault a limp way for Kuzmova to give up her advantage after all her previous fight.
But Raducanu then took the tumble in the opening point of the next service game. From there, she fell 0-40 behind and, although she saved two break points she could not defend the third.
Kuzmova then served out the set with back-to-back aces and, as it later transpired, the match with a 0-6, 7-5 scoreline following the ankle injury.