EMMA RADUCANU was back on the match court in her home country for the first time since winning the US Open on Sunday (November 28).
The world No 19 took to London’s Royal Albert Hall 78 days after becoming a Grand Slam champion, playing a light-hearted exhibition match against her friend, world No 85 Elena-Gabriela Ruse for her homecoming match.
After tasting victory in front of a local crowd just 15 miles away from her home of Bromley, the US Open champion was then asked about the upcoming BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards, remaining modest over her chances.
There was also success for Britain in the Davis Cup, as the squad came back from the brink against the Czech Republic to book a place in the quarter-finals against Germany.
Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic’s father spoke out against the Australian Open, saying the nine-time champion was being “blackmailed” to share his vaccination status to compete, and admitted he didn’t think his son would compete as a result.
Express Sport takes a look back at the biggest news stories on and off the tennis court from the past week.
Raducanu plays coy over SPOTY chances after winning homecoming match
Emma Raducanu made a winning return in her first match on home soil since becoming a Grand Slam champion.
The world No 19 played an exhibition against friend and previous practice partner Elena-Gabriela Ruse if front of a packed crowd at the Royal Albert Hall on the final day of the Champions Tennis tournament, in its last year hosted at the iconic London venue.
She delighted the home crowd as she came through the friendly, spirited exhibition match 6-3 7-6(3), needing a tiebreak to close things out after twice being broken while serving for the match.
After the match, Raducanu was asked on court whether she had prepared a speech for BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year, with the teenager already the favourite to win despite the shortlist yet to be announced, thanks to her historic US Open triumph.
JUST IN: Raducanu ‘would get in trouble’ if she repeated exhibition antics
“No definitely not. I am rooting for Lewis [Hamilton] in the race,” she said, choosing the seven-time champion to win over herself.
“He’s been such a good role model for me in terms of helping me out and through these next stages. He’s a really cool person.”
The 19-year-old also confirmed she wouldn’t be in the country during the SPOTY ceremony in Salford on December 19 because of her commitment to play the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition in Abu Dhabu, and admitted it didn’t feel possible to be crowned with the prestigious title.
Speaking later on in her post-match press conference, she said: “I just know it’s happening sometime in December and yeah, I mean, I don’t even know what the plan is or what’s going on. But yeah, that’s, I’m not even thinking about that.
“No, I just don’t even think about it. Like for me, it’s something that’s so far out of the realms of possibility like I just don’t understand how it could even be a possibility.”
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Djokovic to skip Australian Open over “blackmail”, says his father
Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open hopes have been in doubt for several months, as government officials were keen on implementing a vaccine mandate.
On Saturday November 20, tournament director Craig Tiley officially announced that all players competing in the season-opening Grand Slam would need to be fully vaccinated, and told reporters that he had spoken with Djokovic’s team, making them fully aware of the conditions.
“There’s a lot of speculation about vaccination and just to be really clear, when the Premier announced that everyone on site will need to be vaccinated, we made that clear to the playing group,” the tournament director and Tennis Australia boss said.
“[Novak] has said that he views this as a private matter for him. We would love to see Novak here – he knows that he’ll have to be vaccinated to play here.”
He has since shared his hopes that the nine-time champion will ensure he will be in Melbourne come January, saying: “Novak has won nine Australian Opens, I’m sure he wants to get to 10.”
However, Djokovic’s father has now admitted he does not think the world No 1 will travel to Australia to try and win a record 21st Major title, citing the “blackmail” involved.
Srdjan Djokovic, known for often sharing controversial views relating to his son’s career, told Serbian TV Prva on Sunday (Novenber 28): “It was embarrassing because of the announcement of those leaders in the provinces of Australia, who gave themselves the right to call out the nine-time champion of Australia.
“Whether he will appear there depends on them how they will pose. He would want it with all his heart because he is an athlete, and we would love that too.
“Under these blackmails and conditions, he probably won’t. I wouldn’t do that. And he’s my son, so you decide for yourself.”
Great Britain come back from the brink to book place in Davis Cup quarter-finals
Great Britain are through to the Davis Cup quarter-finals after surviving a scare against the Czech Republic on Sunday (November 28).
The squad, led by captain Leon Smith and British No 1 Cameron Norrie, who made his debut at the Nitto ATP Finals as the second alternate off the back of his Indian Wells victory, lost to France in their previous group tie.
Needing to defeat the Czech team in order to keep their Davis Cup hopes alive, things got off to a tough start when world No 143 Tomas Machac defeated Dan Evans in straight sets.
Norrie then found himself in hot water when he dropped the second set of his singles rubber to world No 138 Jiri Lehecka but battled back to win 6-1 2-6 6-1, keeping the team alive.
The squad’s fate was in the hands of Joe Salisbury and Neal Skupski, who won the decisive doubles rubber 6-4 6-2 to guarantee Britain a spot in the last-eight, where they will face Germany.