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Emma Raducanu 'proud' and 'in shock' after making winning return from injury at Auckland Classic

Emma Raducanu beat Elena-Gabriela Ruse at the ASB Classic in Auckland in her first match after an eight-month injury layoff; watch Raducanu's last-16 clash with Elina Svitolina live on Sky Sports Arena and Main Event on Thursday morning no earlier than 5.30am

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Highlights of Emma Raducanu's match against Elena-Gabriela Ruse at the Auckland Classic.

Emma Raducanu says facing Elina Svitolina in the last 16 at the ASB Classic in Auckland provides her with a "great opportunity" as she continues her comeback from injury.

Raducanu made a winning return to competitive tennis after eight months out as she came through a hard-fought contest with Romania's Elena-Gabriela Ruse to win 6-3 4-6 7-5 on Tuesday.

The 21-year-old Brit was making her first appearance on the WTA Tour since April having been absent after undergoing surgery on both of her wrists and her left ankle.

Her reward for the victory is a second-round meeting with Svitolina, who was the 2023 WTA Comeback Player of the Year having returned from giving birth to rise from outside the top 1000 to 25th in the world rankings.

Raducanu vs Svitolina will be live on Sky Sports Arena and Main Event on Thursday morning no earlier than 5.30am.

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Raducanu says she's grateful to be injury-free after eight months out of the game.

"I think it's a great opportunity for me to play Elina," Raducanu told Sky Sports.

"We've never played before, but she's been at the top of the game for so long and I'm really looking forward to it because now that I've got my first match out of the system, I'm not saying the second one will be easy because it's still relative and compared to all the other players I'm very light on matches, I think that I'm just really excited to test myself against one of the best.

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"And I have nothing to lose, so I'm looking forward to it."

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It was an emotional moment for Raducanu as she completed a winning comeback

While Svitolina is likely to provide a more significant challenge than Ruse, Raducanu is expecting to be able to raise her level after shaking off some rust in her first game back.

"I think the first one is always difficult," Raducanu added.

"But the adrenaline that you get playing a match, it can't be replicated doing anything in training or anything else in life really. So I'm looking forward to getting another dose of it."

Raducanu into Australian Open main draw

Raducanu received a major boost on Wednesday as her place in the Australian Open main draw, which begins on January 14, was confirmed following the injury withdrawal of American Lauren Davis.

She had faced the prospect of having to start her campaign in Melbourne a week earlier in the qualifying draw after missing out on a wild card, but will no longer have to take the same route she took a her stunning 2021 US Open triumph.

Emma Raducanu celebrates during victory over Elena-Gabriela Ruse at ASB Classic in Auckland
Image: Emma Raducanu was pushed hard on her return to action

Raducanu's absence has seen her drop to 298th in the world, and she admitted she was "in shock" after making a winning return to the tour.

"It's a weird one, I didn't really know what I felt during or at the end of the match," Raducanu said.

"Usually you have such a clear emotion, whether that's nerves, whether that's happiness - I think I was just a bit like, just struck and just a bit in shock really because eight months is a long time.

"I mean, I've really been through it, so it's just great to be healthy and to be on the court and competing again."

Both Raducanu's fitness and fight were fully tested by Ruse, who came back from losing the opening set to force a decider in a contest that lasted almost two-and-a-half hours.

"I think it's a match that really tested the fight, I think it's a match that really tested the ability to stay calm under pressure and composed and keep being in the moment," Raducanu said.

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There was some spectacular hitting Emma Raducanu in an epic rally during her clash with Ruse.

"So I think that overall for a first match back after so long, I think that in terms of just fighting and sticking in there in the tough moments, I really got the test times like 10.

"I think that I've always been a good competitor and that really came out today. It came out even though it's been hiding for the last eight months. I still had it, which I was really proud of.

"The body held up really good. I'm really grateful and thank thanking everyone at the LTA, they helped me out so much physically.

"I felt really good on the court and it was nice and refreshing to be playing a match and not thinking of niggles, not thinking of injuries and actually just being able to focus on the tennis and what I wanted to do tactically and not hoping that the points are over quickly.

"I felt like I was there physically for however long the points kind of went. So that was a good feeling too."

Raducanu vs Svitolina will be live on Sky Sports Arena and Main Event on Thursday morning no earlier than 5.30am, with Rafael Nadal's Brisbane International clash with Jason Kubler following no earlier than 8:30am. Stream tennis on Sky Sports without a contract through NOW

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