Robson forced to sit out Australian Open

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The Independent Online

Laura Robson will miss the Australian Open after being advised to rest for three weeks following the upper thigh injury she suffered at the Hopman Cup in Perth last week. The 2008 Wimbledon junior champion had been due to play in the qualifying tournament for the year's first Grand Slam event, which starts in Melbourne next Monday, but will instead be having daily treatment at her training base in Paris.

"The envelope surrounding the muscle is torn," said Patrick Mouratoglou, Robson's new coach. "She needs three weeks to recover well, so we decided not to play the Australian Open.

"If she had played qualifiers it would have been very dangerous. She could have torn the muscle and she would then have been out for six to 10 weeks, so it would have been stupid. She's upset but she's OK. She's going to play many other Grand Slams in future."

Robson, who will be 17 next week, will also withdraw from the British Fed Cup team to play in Israel next month. Her next appearance is likely to be in an International Tennis Federation tournament in the United States.

Andy Murray, Robson's partner at the Hopman Cup, has arrived in Melbourne and will have a full week in which to practise for the Australian Open, where he was runner-up last year. Just as he was 12 months ago, Murray will be seeded No 5 after being replaced at No 4 in the world rankings by Robin Soderling. The Swede ensured he would move ahead of the Scot in today's updated list by beating Andy Roddick 6-3, 7-5 in yesterday's final of the Brisbane International.

Dropping down a place in the seedings, which follow the world rankings, means that Murray could face Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic as early as the quarter-finals, whereas he could not have met them until a round later if he had stayed at No 4. Last year Murray played Nadal in the quarter-finals, the Spaniard retiring with a knee injury after losing the first two sets.

Soderling, who has never gone beyond the second round in Melbourne, did not drop a set in winning in Brisbane and had his service broken only once. It was his first tournament since Claudio Pistolesi replaced Magnus Norman as his coach.

"I'm playing really well and what makes me really happy is I never really played well in Australia before," Soderling said after winning his seventh title. "I didn't have the results here and now finally I have won a tournament playing really good tennis, which gives me a lot of confidence for Melbourne."

Federer opened his season by defeating Nikolay Davydenko 6-3, 6-4 to claim the 67th title of his career at the Qatar Open in Doha. The world No 2, who won in just 79 minutes, did not drop a set all week. Davydenko said it was the best Federer had played against him in their 17 meetings. "He played really fast and gave me no chance on the return," the Russian said.