Robson's reward for a remarkable year is real test of her resolve
Teenager finds step up in training intensity tough after glory of her Olympic silver medal
The "Olympic shelf" in her bedroom, with her silver medal from London occupying pride of place, is a constant reminder of one of Laura Robson's greatest ambitions. "I've already got Rio in the back of my mind," the 18-year-old said yesterday when asked about her next targets. "I'm just a massive Olympics person. My main goal for the last few years was just to play in this year's Olympics. I got a silver medal out of that, so hopefully in Rio I can go one better."
Robson, who said an Olympic gold would be on a par with winning Wimbledon, has had a remarkable year, having beaten two Grand Slam champions at the US Open (Kim Clijsters and Li Na), becoming the first British woman to reach a singles final on the main tour for 22 years and climbing to No 53 in the world rankings. However, she chooses an Olympic defeat, on Centre Court against Maria Sharapova, as her most memorable moment.
"They had closed the roof so it was already super-loud inside," Robson recalled. "I sat down at a change of ends towards the end of the first set and everyone started chanting: 'Laura!' I had goosebumps. I was getting super- emotional because it was the coolest thing ever. That made the whole year for me."
Robson took the silver medal that she won in the mixed doubles alongside Andy Murray to show a local brownie pack but said the girls had been more interested in her Olympic pins. The medal generally stays at home "because I feel a bit self-conscious wearing it around my neck". Robson confessed that she had lost it momentarily the day after the Olympic final, having left it in a buggy as she was transported between TV studios.
Had playing with Murray been intimidating? "No, it was a lot of fun," she said. "He's very encouraging. I always felt really bad if I missed a shot and he was like: 'No, it doesn't matter.' Then as soon as he missed a shot, he was like: 'Oh, I can't believe it!' He was very good to play with."
It was 8.30am when Robson sat down to talk at the National Tennis Centre at Roehampton yesterday, but this was a comparatively late start. With her first tournament of 2013, at Shenzhen in China, only a month and a half away and the Australian Open beginning in the middle of January, she is in the middle of a six-week training block which is more intensive than anything she has experienced before.
Robson has been working with her coach, Zeljko Krajan, who has brought in two more Croats as her fitness trainer and hitting partner. They will travel to Florida on Sunday to finish her winter training programme.
"It's been really tough so far and there's another month to go," Robson said. "I usually start at 7.45 or eight. I warm up until nine, then it's tennis from nine till 11, fitness from 11 to 12.30, warm up again at three, then tennis from 3.30 to 5.30.
"Then after tennis I'll either have another gym session or do recovery stuff. I've been doing ice baths every day – unfortunately. They're long days. I've been getting home very tired."
Robson, who is in bed by 9pm most nights, might have made even quicker progress in her career but for a succession of injuries – many associated with growing pains – in the years after her 2008 Wimbledon junior win. It was no coincidence that her impressive form this year coincided with her first injury-free spell of any length.
"Last year I went into the Australian Open with virtually no practice because I was on crutches until two or three weeks before," she explained. "This is basically the first full training block I will have done, because most of the time I've been injured at this time. By Australia I'm hoping to be super-fit."
Heather Watson, who reclaimed the British No 1 ranking from Robson with her triumph in the Japan Open in Osaka last month, has also been training at Roehampton. Robson said they remained friends as well as rivals. "I hope it stays the same and we always have a good time together," Robson said. "We're both competitive people. We always want do well, but we want each other to do well and if we both push on next year then that will be a really good thing."
Robson's rap: How Laura became an internet sensation
Laura Robson used her spare time while in Beijing last month to make a dance video which became an internet hit. Robson, with Heather Watson and Canadian Genie Bouchard, recorded her video of "Gangnam Style" by rapper Psy. It was edited by Robson and filmed at various Beijing locations. "The song was so popular at the time," Robson said. "We knew the dance, but we're not very good dancers..."
For the full video, go to: www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gGfIwM38xI
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