As Laura Robson confirmed her return to competition following a 17-month absence with injury, Andy Murray warned that his Olympic mixed doubles partner was likely to face a “very tough” comeback.
Robson, who had a wrist operation more than a year ago, has taken a wild card into the qualifying tournament for next week’s Aegon International at Eastbourne.
Murray, who has had his own wrist problems in the past and knows what it is like to return after surgery, said: “When you haven’t played for 17 months, she’s obviously going to be extremely rusty and will probably be lacking confidence in her movement and body.
“There’s a lot of mental baggage that she will have to deal with when she comes back. I don’t know if she works with someone on that front, but if she can get over that hurdle and trust her body, which is not going to come overnight, it’s going to take some time and some matches.
“She’s an unbelievably talented woman. I have known her since she was about 14 or 15 and she has a lot of potential. [If] she trains hard, surrounds herself with the right people and does all the right things, she can have a fantastic career, I’m sure, but it’s going to take time for her to come back from this. If she somehow does do it quickly, that would be awesome, but I wouldn’t expect that.”
Robson would no doubt have been offered a wild card into the main draw at Eastbourne (as her fellow Britons Jo Konta, Naomi Broady and Harriet Dart have been) but, as The Independent revealed this week, she preferred the lower-profile option of taking a wild card into qualifying.
The former Wimbledon junior champion will have to win through two rounds of qualifying – which features players like Daniela Hantuchova, Julia Goerges and Kirsten Flipkens – to make the main tournament. Whether or not she is given a wild card for Wimbledon, which starts in 10 days’ time, is likely to depend on how she fares in Eastbourne.
Konta goes to her home town of Eastbourne on the back of encouraging results. The British No 2 reached the quarter-finals in Nottingham last week and pushed Karolina Pliskova hard in the Aegon Classic in Edgbaston. Trailing 4-3 to the world No 12 in the deciding set after play was halted because of rain on Wednesday, she lost 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 when the match resumed. Heather Watson, the British No 1, will be in the main draw in Eastbourne by dint of her world ranking.