She may have limped out of the ASB Classic, but Emma Raducanu has done her bit to promote New Zealand during her visit.
The British tennis star was forced to retire from her second-round match on Thursday night after appearing to twist her left ankle awkwardly towards the end of the second set, which was taken 7-5 by Viktoria Kuzmova, after Raducanu had won the first set 6-0.
The distraught 2021 US Open champion implied the condition of the courts may have been a factor in her injury after constant rain forced play to be moved inside.
“The courts were incredibly slick, like very slippery,” said Raducanu. “So to be honest it’s not a surprise that this happens to someone. It’s out of my control.”
Despite the badly timed injury - less than two weeks before the Australian Open - Raducanu was determined to share some love for New Zealand on her social media.
“A [sad] ending but still going to leave NZ with some fond memories - here’s some from last week’s beach afternoon up north after practice,” she wrote overnight on Instagram, where she has 2.5 million followers.
Raducanu posted a set of photos of herself enjoying sunny weather at the beach in Tawharanui.
She plans to continue on to Melbourne in hopes her ankle injury won’t stop her from competing in the Australian Open.
Earlier this week ASB Classic tournament director Nicolas Lamperin defended the state of the indoor courts, saying they are up to WTA tour standard.
“The courts have been checked and are fit to play,” he said.
He said the courts were relaid at the start of last year and are the same surface (GreenSet), laid by the same company.
“A lot of work has been done and as far as we are concerned the courts are in playing condition,” Lamperin said.
However, the Herald understands there is a disparity in the conditions and Lamperin confirmed the outdoor courts had been refurbished just before the tournament.
When asked if the indoor courts should have been done at the same time – instead of January 2022 – he said “it’s not a question for me”.
As a long-time agent, Lamperin said he would have no issue with one of his players using the indoor courts but did express sympathy for Raducanu.
“First of all, I want to make sure she is okay,” said Lamperin. “This is my number one priority. I understand her frustrations, 10 days ahead of the Australian Open and she is coming from a season with a lot of injuries.
“We are obviously very sorry about Emma’s injury. Every player works really hard in the off-season and that is not what you expect when you play a tournament in week one.
“However, injuries happen all the time. It could have happened on outdoor courts as well. We feel bad about the situation but the courts are fit to play.”