Emma Raducanu has pulled out of the Kremlin Cup with just hours to spare until the cut-off point for withdrawals in the Moscow tournament.
The US Open champion was one of the star attractions for the Kremlin Cup. The 18-year-old remains scheduled to take part in the Transylvania Open in Romania on October 25. Raducanu was due in the main draw beginning on Monday in Moscow, and a host of Russian tennis fans had expressed excitement on social media about seeing her play.
Her withdrawal is a surprise given she has played just once since becoming a Grand Slam champion, losing to Belarus’ Aliaksandra Sasnovich at Indian Wells earlier in October.
On Thursday, Raducanu said in a statement: “Unfortunately I’ve had to make a tournament schedule change and won’t be able to play Moscow this year but I hope to compete there and in front of the Russian fans next year. I look forward to returning to the tour in the next couple of weeks.”
The world No 22 has said last week that she was not “putting any pressure” on herself after her early exit in California. The bookies’ favourite to win Sports Personality of the Year is also likely to be absent from the BBC event in December due to a scheduling clash.
The awards will be held on December 19 at Salford’s MediaCity but Raducanu is due to play at the Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala World Tennis Championship, which runs from December 16 to 18. From there, she is expected to travel on to Australia for the start of the 2022 season, with the first major of the new year beginning on January 17 in Melbourne.
If that is the case, Raducanu may need to take a leaf out of Andy Murray’s book, who accepted two of his three SPOTY awards – in 2013 and 2016 – by a pool in Miami.
Raducanu, who lost her first match since the US Open at Indian Wells last week, will have stiff competition for the SPOTY award considering her New York triumph happened during an Olympic and Paralympic year, England men’s football team made it to the Euros final in July, Lewis Hamilton became the first driver to claim 100 race wins – with a record eighth world title still possible – and Tyson Fury retained his WBC heavyweight title after knocking out Deontay Wilder.