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The return of Emma Raducanu and Naomi Osaka at the 2024 Australian Open is “massively exciting”, says Eurosport expert Tim Henman.

Both players will be competing at the Grand Slam following lengthy periods away from the tennis court.

The Australian Open is then scheduled a week later, from January 14 to 28. The tournament will be live on Eurosport and discovery+..

Raducanu has been absent from the WTA Tour since the Madrid Open in April, where she was forced to withdraw from her opening match against Viktoriya Tomova due to injury.

Shortly after, the 21-year-old underwent surgery on both wrists and her ankle, and has been recovering ever since.

“It’s massively exciting to have Raducanu coming back,” Henman told Eurosport’s Arnold Montgault. “I think it’s important that everybody around tennis who’s a fan, who’s excited to see Raducanu back on the court, manages their expectations.

“She’s been out for a long, long time and she’s still massively inexperienced. She’s played so few tour level events, she’s played so few matches in her whole professional career.

Emma Raducanu of Great Britain is in tears as she withdraws injured during her singles match against Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia on day four of the 2023 ASB Classic Women’s at the ASB Tennis Arena on January 05, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand.

Image credit: Getty Images

“So for me, from, let’s say, the first three, four months of the year, I think if she could stay injury free and play a whole series of tournaments without any setbacks, I think that would be fantastic because there is no doubt about her ability.”

Henman added: “She’s an incredible tennis player. She’s working hard to build her physical resilience so that she can be out on court, be on tour and compete.

“I think patience is a really important word for Raducanu herself, but also all the people that are excited to see her come back.

“She’s 21 years of age. She’s got the next ten years in front of her. She just needs to build that foundation so that she can get out on tour and compete and show the undeniable talents that she has.”

Britain’s Raducanu has a protected world ranking of 106 but this is not enough to earn an automatic entry to the US Open.

If she is not awarded a wildcard, she will have to try and reach the main draw through qualifying.

“I think for me, any event that she’s going to play is great,” Henman said. “If it’s qualifying at the Australian Open, great. If she gets into the main draw, great.

“If she’s going to drop down and sort of play smaller WTA events, challenger events, ITF events, it does not matter.

“Just to be on the court competing and staying injury free, that is the biggest tick in the box that Raducanu could have.”

The 26-year-old hasn’t played since September 2022, having given birth to her first child in July.

Osaka is a four-time Grand Slam winner, but suffered a decline in form after winning the Australian Open in 2021.

This was in part due to Osaka’s struggles with her mental health, which saw her take time away from the court for significant periods of time in 2021 and 2022.

“I think it’s massively exciting to have Osaka coming back because she just played such incredible tennis in the Slams,” Henman said.

“But she obviously had her struggles mentally, and to have been away from the court and now to be the mother of a child, I think inevitably that’s going to give you a different perspective.

“I really hope that it gives her the platform, the sort of foundation mentally, to go out on the court and compete and perhaps understand that, yes, she’s going to try her hardest and she’s going to play her best tennis, but it’s not the most important thing in the world.

“When the pressure is slightly off from within, then I think when you get that type of freedom, you can play some of your best tennis.”

Henman urged Osaka to “enjoy herself”, adding: “If she can be on the court playing with a smile on her face and showing her abilities, her ball striking, and the tennis that we’ve seen in the past, then she’s a huge addition to world tennis.”

Stream top tennis action, including the 2024 Australian Open, live on discovery+, the Eurosport app and at Eurosport.com.

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