YOU would not want to have Laura Robson’s luck. Tipped by many, Martina Navratilova included, as a potential world beater, Britain’s No.1 does get some duff draws at grand slam tournaments.
True, she has beaten the likes of Petra Kvitova at the Australian Open before and Li Na and Kim Clijsters at the US Open, but she would not mind an easier route through the rounds.
Alas, the draw in Melbourne has pitted her against Kirsten Flipkens from Belgium, a semi-finalist at Wimbledon and the world No.19. So it will be business as usual for Robson as she begins her campaign tomorrow morning.
Her preparations have not been helped by a left wrist injury, a problem she developed at the end of last year. It forced her to pull out of the Auckland tournament at the start of the month and limited her to just one set and a couple of games in Hobart last week (she withdrew during her opening match as a precaution) but she is now hoping the wrist is fully recovered and that she can give the Belgian a run for her money.
“I’m not someone who needs a load of practice to be able to play well,” Robson, below, said. “I’ve always been naturally quite good at hitting, I guess. I’m happy with how I’m playing right now.
“I’ve seen Kirsten play quite a few times. I’ve never played her, but she’s a tricky player, she plays a lot of slices, comes in. It should be interesting.”
Robson has been working with Nick Saviano, the coach of her best friend Eugenie Bouchard, since November and spent the off-season in Florida at his academy. Saviano is not too fond of travelling so, when she is on the road, Robson will be working with Jesse Witten, a former pro from America.
“I’ve got someone like Jesse who’s great with all the tactical stuff and then, when I’m in Florida with Nick, he’s fantastic with all the technical stuff,” Robson said.
“I’m still at that stage where I’m developing as a player and fine tuning such small details – Nick has so much experience with that and Jesse’s learning from that and we’re kind of working as a unit.”
Heather Watson is also enjoying her time with her new coach, Diego Verobelli, and the partnership is clearly working. Yesterday, she qualified for a place in the main draw by beating Irina Falconi 6-4, 7-6 and now plays Daniela Hantuchova, the world No.32. After spending most of last year trying to fight off a bout of glandular fever, Watson is now fit, healthy and desperate to reclaim her place as Britain’s top female player.
“It would have been the end of the world if I hadn’t qualified,” Watson said. “I’m very happy that I am through now, but this is where it starts. I’ve just got over that first hurdle. There’s a long way to go yet.”