Robson v Azarenka – WTA Madrid R1 Preview

By Ros Satar

Laura Robson faces tough opener in Madrid

  • Victoria Azarenka [4] v Laura Robson – First meeting
  • Azarenka looking in ominous form this year as Serena Williams absence moves her into the top seeds
  • Robson playing all the way up to the French Open

MADRID, SPAIN – Former British No. 1 Laura Robson faces a daunting task as she continues the long come-back after a 17-month injury layoff, as she meets fourth seed Victoria Azarenka in the first round of the Mutua Madrid Open.

While women’s tennis in Britain is beginning to show some depth now, it continues to be a long hard road back for Robson. She admitted in Indian Wells that she would have to start using up her protected ranking, after a wrist injury kept her out of the sport for 17 months.

The road back has been a hard one. Always quite a feisty character, it was a more mature Robson who joked that the interest never really dies away when she takes to the court, but at least she is back on the main tour events, even if the results may not have been going her way.

She picked up her first WTA tour win since New Haven in 2015 when she won her first qualifying round before losing in the second round. Watching her in Stuttgart, she still had the array of shots and serve that we knew, not to mention the crushing double-faults and just needs to get that elusive match sharpness that no amount of practice can give.

Azarenka will know only too well the challenges of coming back from injury, having had a stop-start two years. Older, wiser, and now understanding far better that she has to wait for her body to be ready. She acknowledged that a lot had changed for her in a very dark period at times, and this really seems to be paying off.

She already has two titles to her name this year, but is short on clay practice, having pulled out of Istanbul last week. But in all honestly the Belarusian is likely to be just too sharp for Robson to make an impact, although the match practice will be invaluable as she continues to build her confidence and fitness heading to the conclusion of the clay court season, and the grass court season.

Prediction: Azarenka in two sets.

Robson and Azarenka are scheduled on Court Arantxa Sanchez, not before 3pm (2pm BST).