Laura Robson has got to know Andy Murray much better since she played with him in the Hopman Cup mixed-team event in Perth earlier this month. The 2008 junior Wimbledon champion has been hugely impressed by Murray's professionalism – "He was even drinking a recovery shake at dinner the other day," she said in awe – though she has also noticed a flaw in his character.
"He gets tight occasionally," Robson said here in Melbourne yesterday. "I've seen it. He just chokes big time. Just like he did at the Hopman Cup. And you can tell him I said that."
The choking is not a reference to the world No 4's performances on the court, despite his singles defeat by Tommy Robredo in the Perth final. Robson is talking about Doodle Jump, a game she showed Murray on her iPod. "It's so addictive," Robson said. "You get so tight when you get to 40,000 [points] because you can see the score in the corner. I just refuse to look at the score because I get so tight and then start choking so badly.
"I had the highest score, at 42,000. Martijn [Bok, Robson's coach] gave Andy his iPod and he spent about six hours playing it. I spoke to Jez [Green, Murray's fitness trainer] and he said, 'Yeah, he was playing it at dinner and everything.' Andy's now got the highest score and I have to beat it."
Robson, who celebrated her 16th birthday last week, is growing used to competing with her seniors – and not just at computer games. Although she lost in the second round of qualifying for the singles here, the former world junior No 1 had won two matches in the doubles with her partner, Australia's Sally Peers, going into their third-round match this morning against Vera Dushevina and Anastasia Rodionova. In the second round, Robson and Peers beat Kveta Peschke, the world No 23 in doubles, and Chia-Jung Chuang, the world No 27 and twice a Grand Slam finalist.
While Robson's main focus this week is likely to be on the junior competition – she will aim to go one better in the singles after reaching the final 12 months ago, and will be playing doubles with her fellow Briton Heather Watson, the US Open junior champion – her schedule this year will also include more senior events.
"I really like playing the seniors," Robson said. "It's not quite as much fun as juniors, especially seeing as I did not know that many people last year. But now I'm starting to know everyone a bit better, so I feel a bit more included. There are a lot of Eastern European girls and they all kind of stick together, but I know a few girls now."
Spending an increasing amount of time at the Mouratoglou academy in Paris, where Yanina Wickmayer, Sor- ana Cirstea, Aravane Rezai and Jelena Dokic are all based, has also helped. Yesterday afternoon Robson was heading into Melbourne city centre to go shopping with Dokic, with whom she has become friendly in recent weeks.
"She was quite a scary person at first – it was a bit intimidating with her coach and her boyfriend always with her," Robson said. "But we went on this trip to the mountains, a 10-day kind of character-building exercise, and I guess that was a sort of bonding experience. Then she was in Mauritius when I went there and we stayed in contact over Christmas. She just seems to like me for some reason."
Robson won about £34,000 at the Hopman Cup but did not anticipate a spending spree. "I don't get to spend that money," she said. "It goes in my bank account and I don't see any of it. It's very upsetting, but probably wise."
Her birthday presents included a new iPod from her parents, but she is still waiting for a gift from Murray. "I haven't had anything yet," she said. "I was a bit disappointed, I have to say. But I think he will get me something, because he was joking about getting me a Subway bag and stuff like that. He's definitely going to get me something. He also offered to give me a lesson in Doodle Jump. Very generous."
The relationship with Murray is based on mutual leg-pulling ("He's mean to me and I'm mean to him"), though she has been impressed by the Scot's dedication. "What I especially noticed in Perth was just how professional he is about everything – the warm-up, recovery, everything," she said. "He's very organised."
Because of the time she spends in Paris, Robson is working on her French, despite the fact that "everyone makes fun of me because of my British accent". She also wants to learn Spanish and Russian, though for the moment her best alternative language is "backslang", a coded version of English which she uses in the locker rooms.
"All the British girls know how to speak it," she said. "When you're in the changing rooms at tournaments, everyone is speaking in their own language, but when you speak in English they can understand it, which is really annoying.
"If you start speaking backslang with the other British girls all the foreign players get so annoyed. There was one Slovakian player who said, 'Stop speaking that stupid language.' We said, 'Well, it's just the same as you speaking Slovakian, that's like gibberish to us.' It's very useful and I'm trying to teach just a few of the foreign girls, like the Americans, so they can understand."