Robson returns at Eastbourne

By Ros Satar

  •  Laura Robson opts for wildcard into Aegon International qualifying rounds
  • Wrist injury ruled her out for 17 months
  • Murray: ‘Would imagine she will be very nervous going into the match’

 After 17 months out of the tour, former British No. 1 Laura Robson will make her competitive return, but in the comparatively low key qualifying sessions of the Aegon International in Eastbourne.

Robson last played at the 2014 Australian Open, where she lost in the first round, and she joins a competitive qualifying draw that includes Daniela Hantuchova, who is enjoying a deep run in Birmingham, playing in the quarter-finals.

Robson though sounded optimistic about the prospect of hitting the courts again, saying:

“I am looking forward to making my return to the tour and I am excited to compete in front of the great Eastbourne fans again.”

Andy Murray, currently bidding for his fourth title at Queen’s Club this week, said he could empathise with Robson, after having called time on his 2013 season for back surgery, and struggling to get back on terms throughout last season.

“There comes a time when you have to say ‘I just need to get out there and play’, just let everything go and see what happens. I hope she’s OK,” he said to reporters, following his win over Fernando Verdasco.

“A lot of it is mental. I would imagine she will be very nervous going into the match. She won’t know how her body is going to respond, or how much the game has moved on in that time. You may feel you’re doing really well in practice but on the match court it’s a very different thing.”

Robson will now be able to use her protected ranking of World No. 58 for 12 months from Saturday, and that includes up to two Slams and two WTA Premier Mandatory events.

Current British No. 1 Heather Watson had a swift end to her campaign in Birmingham, edged out in the first round by Aleksandra Krunic, and despite forging a winning combination with World No. 3 Simona Halep, the Romanian pulled out of their second round doubles match with a wrist injury, following her quarter-final defeat to Kristina Mladenovic.

Robson has drawn Daria Gavrilova in the opening round of qualifiers. Gavrilova has scored some notable scalps this year including Maria Sharapova (Miami) and Ana Ivanovic (Rome) but played her last match at Roland Garros, where she retired injured in the second round.

The qualifying rounds at the Aegon International start on Saturday.