Robson has tough comeback in Eastbourne

By Ros Satar

• Laura Robson makes her return after 17 months off the tour with wrist injury
• Faced top seed in qualifiers, Daria Gavrilova

Laura Robson made her long awaited return to the tour after 17 months off following a wrist injury in the Eastbourne qualifying draw on Saturday.

She faced up-coming Daria Gavrilova, who had already claimed the scalp of Maria Sharapova this year, although had been carrying an injury since the French Open, where she retired in the second set to Sabine Lisicki.

Gavrilova was returning to the surface herself having missed the first six months of 2014 with a torn ACL, and as the top seed in the qualifying draw, it was a tough ask for Robson.

Robson, sporting no protective strapping on her wrists deserved her due though. She fought tooth and nail in the first set for each of the service games she was broken in, saving four break points in the first, one in the second and three set points despite being denied a game.

Holding her serve at the start of the second earned the approval from the Eastbourne crowd, and earned a smile for Robson, as she was able to put up less of a fight as she was broken the next couple of games, but saved a match point before Gavrilova served out for a 6-0 6-1 win.

Talking after the match, Robson said: “I’ve definitely felt worse, but I’ve also felt better – to be honest, I think in a way it was a victory to just finish a match and be back on court, back playing tournaments, and I’m very happy.

“I still went out there with the intention of winning, though. You never go out there just hoping to get through a match. But it was a lot closer than the score suggested, that’s the way I thought anyway. Now I know what I can do, and I still have so much work to do.”

After the match, Robson thanks the supporters, who were able to watch all the qualifying action for free at Devonshire Park.

Fellow wildcards Naomi Cavaday, Laura Diegman and Emily Webley-Smith also followed Robson out in the opening rounds in Eastbourne.

In the main draw, wildcards Johanna Konta, Naomi Broady and Harriet Dart all have tough draws. Konta will hope to claim her fourth Top 100 scalp when she takes on Zarina Diyas, with Broady facing Sloane Stephens and Dart faces a returning Dominika Cibulkova. Heather Watson starts against Varvara Lepchenko.

Qualifying continues this weekend, with the main draw commencing on Monday 22 June.