Now is the time for Robson to get used to top billing

Having secured a top-50 ranking for the first time this year and beaten former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the Australian Open, the spotlight is on Laura Robson. Eleanor Crooks reports.

Great Britain's Andy Murray and Laura Robson

A lot of people in British tennis will be delighted to see Andy Murray fit for Wimbledon, not least Laura Robson.

The 19-year-old got a glimpse into the future at the French Open when, without Murray, she became the focus of British attention, and it is fair to say it was not something she enjoyed.

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Robson had never won a main-draw match at Roland Garros yet with some bookmakers she was favourite to beat Caroline Wozniacki, the 10th seed and a former world No 1, in the first round.

But those who went with the rankings were rewarded as Wozniacki recorded a 6-3, 6-2 success in just one hour and 11 minutes,

Robson is at a tricky stage that a lot of sport stars go through. She has generated a buzz around her by pulling off big scalps, but those results mean there is now pressure on her shoulders almost every time she plays.

Trying to beat one of the world’s top players when people expect you to do so is very different to when there is merely hope that you might be able to.

Robson has always loved the big stage, from the moment she burst into the national consciousness by winning the junior title at Wimbledon as a 14-year-old to her stellar wins over Kim Clijsters and Li Na at the US Open last year.

The Londoner still has the teenage sassiness about her that charmed everyone who saw her press conferences in 2008, and you sense it is very important to her game that she keeps that sense of fun.

Rafael Nadal may “enjoy suffering” as he memorably put it after his epic win over Novak Djokovic in Paris, but Robson is a different animal, and that is one reason she split with hardline coach Zeljko Krajan.

For the grass season, she will work with Murray’s former coach, Miles Maclagan, a much more laid-back character, and it will be very interesting to see if it develops into anything more than a temporary relationship.

Maclagan said when the link was announced that it was Robson’s ability to beat the best that made the job so exciting, and it would not be a surprise if she pulled off a big win at Wimbledon.

Grass suits the teenager’s powerful game and, although it has not quite happened for her at SW19 yet, she has pushed a number of top players close, including Russia’s Maria Sharapova.

Her results this year illustrate very well the good things about Robson’s game and where she needs to improve.

There have been more big wins – over Petra Kvitova, Agnieszka Radwanska and Venus Williams – but poor losses, too, with seven first-round defeats.

The conundrum for Maclagan is trying to add consistency to Robson’s game without dulling the prodigious ball striking that makes the sky the limit.

Double faults are a major weakness, and Robson smartly summed up what she has learned from the top players when she said in a recent interview: “They always give themselves the best chance to win.”

That is not something that 
can be said of Robson yet, but what the Londoner needs more than anything is time and patience.

The age of teenage grand slam champions has gone and, at 37 in the rankings, Robson is the world’s leading teenager.

Picking future grand slam winners is a notoriously tricky business but Robson certainly remains on the right track.

Top billing is something she will have to get used to.