Emma Raducanu ready to abide by strict quarantine laws to play at Australian Open

Raducanu says she shouldn't be considered favourite for the tournament

Credit: Getty Images

Emma Raducanu would be willing to spend Christmas holed up in hotel quarantine to ensure she can play at the Australian Open.

The 18-year-old tennis sensation said she will do "whatever it takes" despite the country maintaining some of the strictest Covid-19 protocols in the world.

Her commitment to the tournament comes after a week in which the Prime Minister called for exemptions for relatives of England cricketers at the Ashes.

England are preparing for potential player withdrawals as authorities are set to stand by strict bubble conditions, which currently forces all incoming elite athletes into quarantine for two weeks.

Ashley Giles, the England team director, will meet with the players this week to reassure them over arrangements in an attempt to avert as many pull-outs as possible.

The ECB received details of quarantine procedures for players and families, as well as biobubble conditions, on Friday and have gone back to Cricket Australia with a handful of queries they hope will be answered over the weekend. Once they have received those answers they will present them to the players next week and ask who is willing to go.

It is understood most of the families will be allowed to travel, it is a question of whether they want to go through the quarantine period with young children.

Raducanu, the US Open champion, was unaware of the likely restrictions affecting tennis players in Australia, but said she will do "whatever needs to be done to be able to play the Australian Open" in January.

"To me it’s not even a thought or like a battle in my mind," she added. "I just want to be at the Australian Open, and I want to compete there, so whatever it takes to do, I’ll go."

Raducanu with the Duchess of Cambridge on Friday

Credit: Getty Images

Her position is in stark contrast to England cricketers, with the ECB preparing for revolt if players are confined to hotels and not allowed to live a normal life in Australia during the tour this winter. Even Australia’s own athletes at the Olympics were forced to stay in Government-run hotels for two weeks when they returned.

Raducanu, however, says she will go to all lengths to play at the Australian Open, which begins on Jan 17 after potentially two weeks of quarantine and then a week’s full training.

"I want to beat anyone who’s in front of me," she said. "I’m hungry to play anyone and I think that would be a really cool challenge."

The teenager, who this week parted company with her coach Andrew Robinson, dismissed suggestions she could be a favourite for the title.

"If I’m seeded, then I’m seeded but favourite? I think one tournament, you can’t really say I’m a favourite but I’m still so new to everything," she added. "I just feel like I’m learning and absorbing all the knowledge that I’m gaining like a sponge and soaking it all in. That’s what I really want to do. I’m not focused on results, I’m focused on how much I can learn because that’s what’s really going to drive me forward."

Raducanu, who has yet to confirm her next competition, said she returning to the court "is exactly where I want to be" after a fortnight that has involved visits to the Met Gala and London Fashion Week.

"That’s where my head is at," she said of returning to tennis. "Even if the other things are cool, tennis is where it’s at."

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