Emma Raducanus pre-Australian Open plans take shape as Brit joins star-studded line-up

Emma Raducanu wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year

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Emma Raducanu will join a star-studded lineup of WTA stars taking part in a warm-up event ahead of the Australian Open, it has been confirmed. The teenager is hoping to build on her shock US Open success with another strong showing at the first Grand Slam tournament of 2022.

Like every other competitor, Raducanu will be heading Down Under much earlier than usual for this year’s tournament.

That is because they must comply with the country’s strict Covid rules, which require everyone travelling from abroad to quarantine for two weeks before they can mix with others.

Being cooped up in a hotel room for so long is not ideal preparation for a major sporting event, though Raducanu will take comfort from the knowledge that everyone is in the same boat.

And it seems she is keen to hit the ground running once her quarantine is over, as she has signed up for an event in the week before the Australian Open.

The Briton will be one of a field full of big names at the Sydney Tennis Classic, a WTA 500 competition which begins on January 10.

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In total, 18 of the top 24 female players in the world have signed up, showing the importance this new competition is being treated with by players who know they will need to rebuild their fitness after quarantine.

World number 19 Raducanu could once again come up against her US Open final opponent Leylah Fernandez, who also shot up the rankings after her fine run in New York.

But even stiffer competition will be provided by those who currently sit above her in the rankings – and there will be 14 of them at this tournament.

The crowd favourite will be the woman who sits atop those rankings, as world number one Ashleigh Barty has signed up to play.

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The likes of Garbine Muguruza, Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova, Angelique Kerber and Maria Sakkari – another of Raducanu’s US Open victims – are also set to take part.

Last year’s Australian Open finalist Sofia Kenin and French Open champion Iga Swiatek will also provide stiff competition.

Meanwhile, in the men’s draw, the home favourites include rising star Alex de Minaur and tennis bad boy Nick Kyrgios, who has been handed a wildcard for the event.

Kyrgios will play in Sydney after another warm-up event in Melbourne, and said it will be his final preparation before hoping to make an impression at the Australian Open.

“I’ve been training at home in Canberra and here in Sydney and I feel good after an extended break from the game,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to the final hit-out before the AO, thanks to Tennis Australia for the opportunity to play.”

Raducanu could arrive in Australia with a fresh title after already being named the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year earlier this month.

She is reportedly set to be made an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List to mark her historic US Open achievement.

If so, Raducanu would be the youngest person ever to be given the honour.

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