Raducanu injury scare before Aussie Open

Emma Raducanu has criticised the indoor courts at the ASB Classic in New Zealand after suffering an ankle injury which has put a question mark over her participation at the Australian Open.

The former US Open champ was left in tears as she was forced to withdraw from Thursday's second-round match against Viktoria Kuzmova at the start of the third set, having rolled her ankle .

The contest had been moved indoors due to rain in Auckland, but the 20-year-old Raducanu was not happy with the standard of the playing surface.

"It's difficult to take," Raducanu said.

"I've put a lot of physical work in the last few months and I've been feeling good and optimistic.

"So to be stopped by a freak injury, rolling an ankle is pretty disappointing, in the first week as well. I thought I was playing some pretty decent tennis.

"The courts are incredibly slick, like very slippery, so to be honest it's not a surprise that this happened to someone.

"It's out of my control and after a very long day of waiting around. But we'll assess over the next few days and see what the next steps are."

Raducanu had breezed through the opening set 6-0, but Kuzmova hit back to take the second 7-5.

Raducanu called for medical treatment before the start of the third set, and it quickly became apparent she could not continue.

Raducanu ended her 2022 season early after suffering a wrist injury in October, but had started 2023 by rallying for a 4-6 6-4 6-2 victory over emerging Czech talent Linda Fruhvirtova, 17, on Tuesday.

Raducanu has been marked as one of the biggest stars in tennis since winning at Flushing Meadows in 2021, but her career since has been dogged by injuries, having retired from matches four times in 2022.

Meanwhile, veteran Venus Williams blew a 5-3 last-set lead in a match that stretched over nearly seven hours because of rain in losing to Zhu Lin of China 3-6 6-2 7-5.

The 42-year-old Williams fought through every moment of the second-round match which began after noon and ended near 7pm, which began outdoors and ended indoors, and which contained 13 service breaks before finally tipping in favour of Zhu in the last few games.

Seven-time grand slam champion Williams, starting her 30th year on the WTA Tour, won her first tour match in nearly two years when she beat Katie Volynets on Monday in the first round of the Auckland tournament.

She played only four matches in 2022 and was hoping to progress to the second round of a tournament for the first time since 2019.

"It was not great," Williams said. "Definitely tough. I've played a lot of matches in my life and I've played through some intense delays but it was definitely like two separate matches."

Top-seeded American Coco Gauff will face Zhu in the quarterfinals after her 6-4 6-4 win over compatriot Sofia Kenin, the 2020 Australian Open champion.

Seventh-ranked Gauff also had to play indoors and beat Kenin in just under 90 minutes, levelling their head-to-head record after Kenin beat Gauff en route to the Australian Open title.