Globe-trotting Laura Robson faces the heat of elite competition

 

Dubai

If it's Monday it must be Dubai. The United Arab Emirates is the latest destination in Laura Robson's whistle-stop tour of the Middle East and the 19-year-old Briton will break new ground here tonight when she makes her debut in the Dubai Duty Free Championships.

After helping Britain's women qualify for a Fed Cup World Group play-off in Israel just eight days ago, Robson played in Doha last week before boarding another plane to take her place in this week's top-quality field. With 17 of the world's top 20 women here (the only absentees are Maria Sharapova, Li Na and Maria Kirilenko), Robson needed a wild card to take part, though an indication of her growing stature is the fact that she will play Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva in the tournament's first night session.

While her tour of the region was briefly soured with the discovery that a box of jewellery had gone missing from her suitcase, Robson has been enjoying her travels. With no direct flights between Israel and Qatar, the world No 45 had to take a detour via Jordan last week before flying to Doha, where she lost first time out against the experienced Daniela Hantuchova.

Tonight Robson faces the rare experience of playing an opponent who is younger than her. Putintseva, aged 18, is the world No 97 and is also here thanks to a wild card. Thereafter the competition gets hotter than the weather – the forecast high for the next few days is a very pleasant 26C – with the winner due to play Agnieszka Radwanska, the world No 4, in the second round.

The globe-trotting will continue next month, when Robson will play in Indian Wells and Miami, and in April, when she may make her first clay-court appearance of the year in Charleston in South Carolina before heading for Buenos Aires, where Britain will play their Fed Cup World Group play-off against Argentina.

"I think we would all have loved a home tie, but we're all going to be ready and it's good that it's going to be on clay because we'll be going directly into the clay season immediately afterwards," Robson said here yesterday. "I think we have a good chance."

With all the travelling, how many days has Robson been able to spend at home this year? "Not very many," she said. "I had a couple of days at home after I got back from Melbourne. I went and saw my friends and socialised a bit. When you have such limited time at home you try to fit in as much as possible."

The top two seeds for this week's tournament are Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka, who will swap places today at the top of the world rankings. Williams, who at 31 is the oldest woman to be world No 1 since the rankings were introduced in 1975, secured her sixth spell at the top thanks to her quarter-final victory over Petra Kvitova in Doha last week. She first became world No 1 nearly 11 years ago.

Azarenka enjoyed a measure of revenge for losing the No 1 position when she beat Williams 7-6, 2-6, 6-3 in the final in Doha yesterday. It ended a run of eight successive victories by the American over the Belarusian, including four in Grand Slam tournaments. Until yesterday Williams had lost only twice since last year's French Open, to Angelique Kerber in the quarter-finals in Cincinnati and to Sloane Stephens in last month's Australian Open, when she had an ankle injury.

Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal celebrated a title win in his second tournament back following seven months out injured as he swept aside David Nalbandian in straight sets in the final of the Brazil Open. Nadal's 51st victory on the ATP Tour was rarely in doubt as he dismissed his Argentine opponent 6-2, 6-3 in just 78 minutes.

Juan Martin del Potro won his first title of the year when he beat Julien Benneteau 7-6, 6-3 in the World Tennis Tournament final in Rotterdam. Benneteau, who had beaten Roger Federer in the quarter-finals, had one break of serve in the first set but from that point onwards Del Potro took command.

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
Life and Style
The Zinger Double Down King, which is a bun-less burger released in Korea
food + drinkKFC unveils breadless meat beast
PROMOTED VIDEO
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?