Emma Raducanu: Who is Elena Rybakina, the US Open champion's next opponent?

Emma Raducanu is set to get her 2022 under way today at the Sydney Tennis Classic

Emma Raducanu is set to get her 2022 under way today at the Sydney Tennis Classic.

The 19-year-old has endured a turbulent start to her preparations for this month’s Australian Open.

She was forced to withdraw from the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi in December after testing positive for COVID-19.

Raducanu then pulled out of the Melbourne Summer Set last week, revealing it was “too soon” to compete after her period of isolation.

Her time to return to the court has finally arrived, and she takes on Elena Rybakina in the opening round of the Sydney Tennis Classic today.

Raducanu had been scheduled to play Iga Świątek in the WTA 500 event, but the Polish star withdrew with a rib injury.

Who is Elena Rybakina?

Ryabinka will be a tough opponent – she is currently 14th in the world, five places higher than Raducanu.

The star from Kazakhstan won her maiden WTA Tour title at the Bucharest Open in 2019, before triumphing at the Hobart International in 2020.

Ryabinka is yet to win a Grand Slam, but progressed to the quarter-finals of the French Open last year, losing to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia over three sets.

The 22-year-old has enjoyed a brilliant start to her season, reaching the final of the Adelaide International.

She missed out on the title after losing 6-3 6-2 to world number one Ashleigh Barty, but otherwise defeated Storm Sanders, Marie Bouzková, Shelby Rogers, Misaki Doi during the tournament.

Ryabinka will be hoping to continue her excellent form against Raducanu.

Elena Rybakina reached the Adelaide International final last week

What is the Sydney Tennis Classic?

The Sydney Tennis Classic is a one-off men’s and women’s tennis tournament, with the women’s competition classified as a WTA 500 event.

It is played on a hard court surface and serves as a warm-up for next week’s Australian Open.

Competition began yesterday, with stars such as Paula Badosa, Anett Kontaveit, Petra Kvitová and Ons Jabeur progressing into the round of 16.

Elise Mertens and Olympic champion Belinda Bencic are among the players to win today.

Barty has withdrawn from the tournament after her victory at the Adelaide International, however, choosing instead to focus on the upcoming Grand Slam.

The winner of Raducanu against Ryabinka will go on to face Caroline Garcia of France, who defeated Jessica Pegula of the United States this morning.

UK and Ireland viewers can watch coverage of the tournament on Amazon Prime Video.

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