The British tennis star has been out of action for over five months due to multiple injuries, having last played a competitive match on tour in Stuttgart in mid-April. She has undergone double surgery on her wrists and ankle and only resumed practicing a few months ago.
In her time away from the sport, the 21-year-old has seen her ranking tank as low as No. 296. Because of her ranking status, Raducanu is ineligible to play in the main draw of WTA events. But there is always a way of top players returning from injury off-setting this scenario.
And that is through a Special Ranking (Protected Ranking). A player can use her SR for up to eight WTA tournaments in one year if she is out of action between six months and one year. In Raducanu’s case, she has a special ranking of 103.
Ideally, Raducanu would have automatically qualified for the main draw in previous Grand Slam tournaments. However, the cut-off for the main draw of next month’s Grand Slam (direct entry) has dropped to double digits (99th) because several women with a higher protected ranking have chosen to compete at the 2024 Australian Open.
Therefore, Raducanu will now have to fight for her spot in the main draw of the year’s first Grand Slam through the qualifying rounds. It would be the first time since she sensationally lifted the US Open a couple of years ago that she will play the qualifying rounds of a major.
While there is no confirmation by the British star of her involvement at the Melbourne Slam or the preceding warm-up tournaments, there is growing speculation she will now make her return to tennis in Australia next month despite pulling out from the Macau exhibition this past week.
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