Wimbledon 2013: The hopes of a nation... Britain's Laura Robson eases home pressure by escaping favourite status
Laura Robson has been learning to cope with fame ever since she won the girls' title here five years ago, but the 19-year-old Briton's celebrity status will reach a new peak if she beats Kaia Kanepi here on Court One this afternoon.
Already the first British woman to reach the fourth round since Sam Smith in 1998, Robson is now one win away from becoming the first home player to appear in a Wimbledon women's quarter-final since Jo Durie in 1994. If Robson does make it to the last eight she will face Serena Williams, assuming the world No 1 and defending champion disposes of Sabine Lisicki on Monday.
At least it helps Robson that Andy Murray is also through to the second week to share the spotlight. "I think he is taking most of it," Robson said. "He is doing amazingly and playing really, really well. It would be great if he manages to get through the later stages of the tournament, but I'm just going to focus on my match on Monday."
Had Robson seen much of Murray, her mixed doubles partner at last summer's Olympics? "I saw him on Saturday morning and stole five minutes of his practice time," she said. "[Agnieszka] Radwanska kicked me off my court before I had finished serving. Andy was doing all his balance and things like that, so I just took his court for a couple of minutes."
Murray's own advice to Robson on Sunday was simple. "I think you just concentrate on one match," he said. "She's 19 years old, so just give her a bit of time to enjoy her tennis."
As if coping with the pressure at her home Grand Slam tournament has not been a big enough challenge for Robson, this is also her first Wimbledon away from her parents, who recently moved to Greece in connection with her father's job as an oil executive.
"I am getting used to it," Robson said. "My mum was here the week before last and the rest of my family are here now, so I'm doing OK." She added: "It must be quite stressful for parents in a week like this. My dad is pretty chilled so he is taking it all in his stride, but my mum is quite happy to watch on TV."
Robson, who at the end of Wimbledon will become the first British woman to be ranked in the world's top 30 since Durie in 1987, has equalled her career-best performance at a Grand Slam tournament by making the fourth round – she reached the same stage of last year's US Open – but needed to come from behind in her latest match on Saturday to do so.
She was second best for a set and a half against New Zealand's Marina Erakovic, who blew her chance when serving for the match in the second set. From 5-3 down Robson won eight matches in a row to take control, eventually winning 1-6, 7-5, 6-3.
Kanepi, the world No 46, will pose a significant threat. The 28-year-old from Estonia, who knocked out the No 7 seed Angelique Kerber in the second round and the grass-court specialist Alison Riske in the third, has a big game, not dissimilar to Robson's. She is faster and fitter than she has been in the past and also has plenty of experience. She reached a career-high No 15 in the world last year but has been rebuilding her ranking following injury problems.
"I was away for half a year and came back this April," Kanepi said. "In the beginning it's tough, of course, the first few tournaments, but I knew that I can play really well. My body has not forgotten things. It's been a good comeback for me."
Robson will not be underestimating the size of her task. "She has always played really well here and has made the quarters before," the world No 38 said. "I watched her match against Tara Moore in the first round and I watched her on Saturday evening."
The Briton added: "It's definitely going to be a tough match. I'm happy to have got through Friday and Saturday, though, because I went into those matches as favourite, which doesn't usually happen for me in a Slam. I put a lot of pressure on myself for the last two matches to do well."
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