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.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
people
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
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.

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick