The 19-year-old Spaniard became the youngest men's world number one in history after winning his maiden Grand Slam at the US Open in September last year.

Carlos Alcaraz – the world No 1 – will miss the Australian Open as he is forced to pull out of the year’s first grand slam due to a muscle injury as women tennis star Emma Raducanu also in doubt after rolling over her ankle in Auckland.

Alcaraz, the 19-year-old Spaniard who became the youngest men’s world number one in history after winning his maiden Grand Slam at the US Open in September last year, used social media to inform the fans about the news.

“When I was at my best in preseason, I picked up an injury through a chance, unnatural movement in training. This time it’s the semimembranosus muscle in my right leg.”

He added that he had worked so hard to get to my best level for Australia but unfortunately he won’t be able to play the Australian Open. “It’s tough, but I have to be optimistic, recover and look forward. See you in 2024, Australian Open.”

Alcaraz was one of the standout stars of 2022, where he rose through the rankings to claim the world No 1 spot – becoming the youngest man ever to take the position. The teenage sensation won five titles last year, including his first Grand Slam at the US Open, and was looking to get 2023 off to a flying start in Melbourne.

However, Alcaraz will be forced to postpone his plans until he has overcome his leg injury. His absence means that fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal will now become top seed as he looks to defend his title.

On the other hand, Emma Raducanu is heading to Melbourne but faces a nervous wait to see if she will be healthy enough to compete at the Australian Open after suffering a sprained ankle in her first tournament of the year.

On Thursday, Raducanu rolled her ankle at the beginning of the third set in her ASB Classic second-round match against Viktoria Kuzmova in Auckland. After receiving medical treatment, the 20-year-old played one point before retiring in tears. Afterwards, Raducanu criticised the “slick” indoor courts they had been forced to compete on due to rain.

She will now go straight to Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open but is still awaiting conclusive test results on the severity of her ankle sprain.

Raducanu and her team are hoping that she will be diagnosed with a grade 1 sprain, which would at least give her a chance of being ready to compete at the Australian Open, which begins on 16 January. If her ankle injury is more severe, however, her chances of competing in Melbourne would be remote.

A year ago, Raducanu’s off-season was disrupted after testing positive for Covid-19 and then she suffered from blisters in her Australian Open second round loss to Danka Kovinic.

Those opening weeks set the tone for a season filled with injury and health issues, ending with her withdrawal from the Billie Jean King Cup finals in Glasgow, and further complicating the task of following up her 2021 US Open victory.


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