Laura Robson coming of age

  • By: Eleanor Crooks, Press Association Sport
  • Last Updated: December 31 2012, 10:24 GMT

Eleanor Crooks focuses on Laura Robson as she looks ahead to the tennis year to come.

Laura Robson: Olympic silver medallist

Winning the Wimbledon junior title at the age of 14 certainly did not make life easy for Laura Robson.

Barely into her teens, suddenly the tennis world was waiting for the girl from London, via Australia and Singapore, to emerge as a force on the women's tour.

At the stage where most players were still competing on the junior tour or taking tentative steps among the senior ranks, usually largely unnoticed, Robson had the shadow of 'next big thing' hanging over her.

In 2012, the now 18-year-old proved emphatically that the hype was more than justified and it would be a major surprise if she does not go on to even bigger and better things next season.

Impatience aside, Robson has always been at worst on a level with the best players of her age and for the most part some way ahead.

It is easy to see why the tennis world was so excited about the teenager. She has the kind of natural and easy power that makes coaches drool.

Allied to that was Robson's mental strength and love of the big stage, while in some ways the best thing about her was how much room there was for improvement.

Robson was pushing the likes of Maria Sharapova despite poor movement and a serve that, although powerful, produced far too many double-faults.

Early summer hinted at what was to come. For once Robson had been free of injuries and she climbed into the top 100 and then won a mixed doubles silver medal with Andy Murray at the Olympics.

But it was at the US Open where Robson really showed a glimpse of what surely is to come.

When she was drawn against Kim Clijsters in the second round in the three-time US Open champion's final professional tournament, it seemed a nice moment for the teenager and a terrific opportunity to play on Arthur Ashe court - the biggest in tennis.

But Robson has never been content with just being there and she brought Clijsters' career to a premature end with a stunning performance before paying a mature and thoughtful on-court tribute to the much-loved Belgian.

Upsets happen but are very rarely followed up. See the case of Lukas Rosol, who stunned Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon and then promptly disappeared back to the Challenger circuit.

Robson's next opponent was another former grand slam champion, China's Li Na, and thrillingly the British teenager raised her game to even greater heights to win again.

Robson's movement was no longer a weakness, her serve a weapon to trouble the world's best, and, although defending champion Sam Stosur proved a step too far in the fourth round, it was another close-fought match.

Robson was a hit on and off the court, charming the world's media with the sort of witty self-confidence only a teenager can pull off.

She expects a lot of herself and her primary emotion was not satisfaction at the best two results of her career but disappointment she could not make it three.

Robson was not finished there, though, and later in September became the first British woman to reach a singles final on the WTA Tour for 22 years in Guangzhou.

Coach Zeljko Krajan has only been working with Robson for a few months but already the relationship appears to be a good fit.

And, even more excitingly for British tennis, Robson has company in the shape of friend and countrywoman Heather Watson.

The 20-year-old Guernsey player is in many ways the opposite of Robson; petite and a natural athlete with an ultra consistent game but lacking power in her shots.

Watson responded to Robson's success by going one better and winning the WTA Tour title in Osaka, ensuring she finished the year as British number one and in the world top 50, and the hope is the pair will push each other further.

Another name to look out for is 21-year-old Johanna Konta, who switched allegiance from Australia, the country of her birth, to Britain this year and appears to have the mental strength and the game to go far.

Andy who?

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