In 2012, Laura Robson stunned the world of tennis after defeating Li Na and Kim Clijsters on her way to reaching the fourth round of the US Open. Fast forward five years and the young Brit has fallen outside the top 200 and been eliminated in the first qualifying round against world number 313 Alla Kudryavtseva.
The significance of this defeat means Robson will go the whole of 2017 without a single Grand Slam victory. She will also drop below in rankings to fellow Brit Katie Boulter and become the British number five, after losing significant points after qualifying through to the main draw last year.
So what next for Laura Robson?
Her injuries have been well documented. Missing the majority of 2014 and 2015 following wrist surgery really damaged Robson’s form. But at 23, she still has plenty of years on her shoulders and maybe a break isn’t the worst thing in the world right now. It seems that she is making the same mistakes in her games: double faults remain a problem, as does over-hitting forehands.
So would taking a step back and understanding how to change her game be the worst thing in the world?
She would drop further down the rankings, but overcoming these technical difficulties would (theoretically) mean a prompt return to the top 200. She has shown she has the quality to achieve success at this level – winning her biggest title at a 60k event in Japan earlier in the year – and gaining entry into ITF 25k grade tournaments shouldn’t be an issue given the ranking points she’s accumulated over the year.
Also, recent history suggests having a break can work wonders.
Sloane Stephens’s recent return to form has been welcomed – the American’s last two tournaments has seen her rise from outside the top 900 to inside the top 100. And while these are completely different circumstances, given Stephens’ bad injury, this is the type of rise that Robson needs to take encouragement from. She knows thats she has (or had) similar talent to Stephens, and seeing someone return from an injury in such emphatic form should provide Robson with a real boost.
Taking the time to change her tactics and really hone in on her technical mistakes would work wonders for Robson. Whether it will work is another question.