Emma Raducanu set for nightmare 2022 start which could disrupt Australian Open plans

Emma Raducanu wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year

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Emma Raducanu’s start to 2022 is no doubt set to be a difficult one after the teenage star was drawn against world No 9 and 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek in the opening round of the Sydney Tennis Classic.

The Sydney tournament gives a number of stars the perfect warm-up for the up and coming Australian Open later this month, however Raducanu has been given a tricky test in her event opener.

The 19-year-old’s pre-Australian Open plans had already taken a major hit after she was forced to pull out of another warm-up event in the Melbourne Summer Set, following the effects of her COVID-19 recovery.

Now she finally returns to the court, but against a tough opponent in Swiatek – who unlike Raducanu – has already had plenty of match time in 2022.

As a result the former French Open champion competed in the recent Adelaide International, and managed to get three victories under her belt over Daria Saville, Leylah Fernandez and Victoria Azarenka.

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The 20-year-old’s tournament finally came to an end in the semi-final as she was defeated by world No 1 Ash Barty 6-2, 6-4.

Despite the defeat the world No 9 heads into her clash with Raducanu with plenty of game time, compared to the Brit who hasn’t competed in a competitive event in nearly two months.

Of course the tough task at hand means the 19-year-old faces an uphill battle to get to the last 16 of the event, and if she doesn’t she will head to Melbourne with just two wins to her name since her US Open title triumph back in September.

Raducanu of course stunned the world last year following her record-breaking win at Flushing Meadows, and this of course has skyrocketed her to the forefront of women’s tennis.

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Despite having a Grand Slam to her name though, American great Pam Shriver believes it will take time to see the 19-year-old come to her full potential.

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.”

The 21-time Grand Slam winner went on to add that she would be ‘surprised’ to see Raducanu in the top 20 come the end of 2022.

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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