Rain turns Auckland into indoor WTA event

January 06, 2023 11:37 AM AEDT | By AAPNEWS
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Tournament director Nicolas Lamperin has defended Auckland's indoor court surfaces after Emma Raducanu made a tearful exit from the Australian Open lead-up event.

Rain has dogged the WTA event since Wednesday, and forecasts paint a grim picture for the rest of the tournament, which has reached the quarter-final stage.

All matches on Thursday were finished on training courts inside the Auckland venue, which have no room for fans.

Persistent rain on Friday postponed play until 1:30pm local, when top seed Coco Gauff headed inside for her first-up quarter-final against Lin Zhu.

Gauff, third seed Leylah Fernandez and seventh seed Danka Kovinic negotiated the indoor courts to reach the last eight on Thursday, but Raducanu wasn't so lucky.

The Briton raced to a 6-0 first set win over qualifier Viktoria Kuzmova but rolled her ankle in the second, retiring after losing the set 7-5.

"It's difficult to take ... the courts are incredibly slick, like very slippery, so to be honest it's not a surprise that this happened to someone," Raducanu said on Thursday night after the loss.

The 20-year-old will have scans on Friday to assess her readiness for the first grand slam of the season, starting in 10 days.

Lamperin said he was "very sorry" for Raducanu, the 2021 US Open champion who endured an injury-plagued year in 2022.

"I want to make sure she is okay ... I understand the frustration," he said.

"Every player, they work really hard in the off-season and that's not what you expect when you play a tournament in week one.

"However, injuries happen all the time. It could have happened on outdoor courts as well."

Lamperin said Raducanu's injury was the only one to occur on the indoor courts, which he insisted had the same surface as outdoor.

Auckland is hosting the ASB Classic for the first time since 2020 - when Serena Williams won her last WTA title - after two years of COVID cancellations.

Despite the unseasonal rain, many fans are still showing up to the event, sitting in the stands and watching play on big screens.

Lamperin declined to outline the financial hit to the event, and said the rain and Raducanu's comments wouldn't hurt the tournament's reputation.

"It's obviously very challenging and not the experience that we would like to deliver to the players and to the fans but we just have to deal with it," he said.

"I don't think long term it will have any negative impact on the tournament."


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