Emma Raducanu has raised fears of a fresh injury scare just days before the Australian Open after pulling out of an exhibition match in Melbourne.
The former US Open champion is due to make her comeback at a major tournament in Australia after being sidelined for eight months following wrist and ankle operations last year.
Raducanu, the former British No.1, reached the second round in Auckland last week, where she impressed in defeat to second seed Elina Svitolina, and had been expected to continue her preparations in a charity match inside Rod Laver Arena.
The 21-year-old Briton had initially been due to play her fellow former US Open champion Naomi Osaka but the Japanese star, who herself recently returned to action after giving birth to daughter Shai last summer, then withdrew from the match and was replaced on the bill by world No.25 Donna Vekic.
But Australian Open officials later announced the match was off, with Raducanu reported to have pulled out having apparently woken up feeling a ‘little sore’ following a two-hour practice session in Melbourne on Monday.
Raducanu is next scheduled to play at the Kooyong Classic on Thursday, where she will face 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva.
The Briton has secured direct entry to the Australian Open, and will find out her first-round opponent on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Dan Evans kicked off his season with a straight-sets victory over Rinky Hijikata in Adelaide.
The British No.2, fit again after a calf injury ended his 2023 season, beat Australian wildcard Hijikata 6-3 6-4.
And two British players progressed to the second round of Australian Open qualifying, with Ryan Peniston beating Elias Ymer and Billy Harris seeing off Dimitar Kuzmanov.