Emma Raducanu has ‘no doubt’ she can compete with the best after pushing seventh seed Coco Gauff to a heartbreaking defeat at the Australian Open.
The UK number one rolled her ankle just 13 days before the second round game, needing crutches and a protective boot afterwards.
“To say that I had so little preparation, facing a player like Coco is a good achievement,” said Raducanu, 20.
“The chances of me playing this tournament were very, very low.”
Raducanu tested world number seven Gauff, one of the tournament favorites, and earned two set points to make the match a deciding match before losing 6-3 7-6 (7-4).
When asked if this proved she could challenge the best players on a more regular basis, Raducanu replied: “I have no doubts. I was competitive today and had five hours of training in the last two or three weeks since my last game.
“I have no doubts about what I can do when I’m in top form. I know my potential.”
Raducanu has struggled for fitness and form since his stunning US Open 2021 triumph as an unknown teenage qualifier.
Her first full season on the WTA Tour proved to be physically difficult and she fell to 77th place in the world rankings after being unable to string together a series of matches.
The ankle injury – a freak accident suffered at the Auckland Open in only her second match of the season – was the latest setback and came after a pre-season where she worked hard to build her body for the rigors of a long year.
Raducanu left the Auckland court in tears after withdrawing from her match against Slovakia’s Viktoria Kuzmova knowing it put her participation in the season-opening Grand Slam event in doubt.
“I would say all the chips were against us. I had extremely limited practice time, and I think I can say now I’m not competing anymore,” she said.
“That was obviously going to be a boost to get me on the pitch. I think 13 days ago if you had told us ‘you’re going to be in the draw and win a round’ it would have been a huge effort for sure.”
Gauff, 18, was a huge step up from former Raducanu opponent Tamara Korpatsch’s class and the Briton caused the French Open runner-up problems last year with her aggressive approach, particularly in the second set.
Raducanu was one set and one down at one point but fought back to create two opportunities to send the match into a decider, although she was unable to convert either.
“I still think I didn’t necessarily play my best today,” added Raducanu.
“It bothers me a bit because I know I could have done better but I will keep moving forward from here.”