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Raducanu 'very up' for second-round date with Gauff

  • Alex Sharp

Sipping from what she called a "game changer" coconut, a relaxed Emma Raducanu's eyes lit up when her blockbuster second-round contest at Australian Open 2023 was mentioned during her press conference on Monday afternoon.

MORE: All the scores from Day 1 at AO 2023

The Brit certainly wasn't smiling in the build-up to the opening major of the year at Melbourne Park, after a twisted left ankle at the ASB Classic in Auckland derailed her preparations.

Just a fortnight later, the 2021 US Open champion has booked a second-round ticket to face off with teenage sensation Coco Gauff on Wednesday.

"I'm really looking forward to this match. I'm very up for it. Coco has obviously done a lot of great things and she's playing well," said Raducanu ahead of a battle with the world No.7.

MORE: AO 2023 women's singles draw

"I think we're both good, young players, we're both coming through, part of the next generation of tennis really. I'm looking forward to the occasion."

Raducanu, who dispatched Tamara Korpatsch 6-3 6-2 on Monday, was full of praise for Gauff's game.

"I think she's a great athlete with some big weapons," Raducanu said. 

"When she first came at Wimbledon (2019), I think after that (she) took her a little bit to adjust as well, but then she definitely found her feet. She's playing really good tennis and looking really solid right now."

The Brit, just two years older than Gauff, also highlighted the 18-year-old's personality away from competition. 

"I know her a fair bit. Off the court she's really nice and friendly and really down-to-earth," continued the world No.77. "Yeah, she's cool."

Due to the ankle injury sustained in Auckland, there were concerns that Raducanu's rotten luck on the sidelines would continue into 2023. However, the Brit's team have managed the issue expertly, and Raducanu rallied from a tentative start on Monday to compete with all guns blazing on 1573 Arena.

"Everything I've done has been quite controlled the last week. To test it out in a real match and with the unpredictability and stuff, just getting used to it in the beginning … but it felt good," explained Raducanu.

"If anything, it kind of alleviates any pressure, because you're like 'I've done so well to get myself onto the court, and my team has done so well'. It's just a great achievement for all of us.

"Then for me to be out there … I might as well just enjoy all the hard work we've done to get myself here."

The 20-year-old was boosted by an assured performance, despite a truncated off-season. 

"I'm just happy with the way I handled myself today in the match. There were points where I wasn't necessarily playing the best, but I was good mentally to carry on going," added Raducanu. 

"Honestly, my off-season, the tennis part was like six days, honest. I did not really train. But I did a lot in the gym. I think just at the moment I'm swinging more freely in general."

A free-swinging Raducanu and top-10 talent Gauff promises to be a pure popcorn clash on Wednesday.