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Robson's hard graft

If Laura Robson had one wish, at least in terms of getting a famous coach, it would be this.

Laura Robson takes on Yanina Wickmayer before withdrawing to protect her wrist          Photograph: Getty
Laura Robson takes on Yanina Wickmayer before withdrawing to protect her wrist Photograph: Getty

"It would be good to have Steffi [Graf]," she smiled yesterday as she relaxed inside Melbourne Park. "I don't see her doing it. But it would be quite fun."

After Andy Murray and Ivan Lendl, and now Novak Djokovic and Boris Becker and Roger Federer and Stefan Edberg, hiring a returning legend is all the rage. Robson said she doesn't like to bother former players for advice too much when she is at tournaments "unless they're offering it".

"But I think it's always good to speak to the former pros who have so much experience and always have something interesting to say. It seems that you guys ask them, they say it in the paper, then I eventually read it. But they never directly say anything to me. Actually Martina [Navratilova] has a couple of times."

It should be pointed out that Robson is more than content with her current coaching set-up, in which Jesse Witten and Nick Saviano share duties. It is a combination that the Briton, who turns 20 this month, hopes will add some consistency to her big-hitting game, which will in turn enable her to rise up the rankings even faster.

"We haven't exactly discussed it all, but it's kind of working on always having the same intensity in training, day in day out, practising exactly how you would in a match, no matter what tournament it is," she said. "So eventually you just start to do that in matches, no matter how small or big the event is. That's something that I am improving on and will just continue to get better."

A wrist injury has hampered her preparation for the first Grand Slam of the year, but yesterday she said things had improved over the past week.

"I'm good and my wrist feels pretty good right now," she said. "I've had some good practices the last couple of days. Yesterday I hit for the longest time since the end of the off-season, which I was really happy with."

Wrist injuries can be notoriously difficult to deal with and Robson admitted it has taken some time to get to the bottom of the problem.

"At the end of the off-season, I saw several doctors and it seems to be cleared up now," she said. "It was a bit of tendinitis and there was a bit of a ligament thing in there, but it was kind of two different things. We thought after we saw the first doctor that it would be fine for Auckland. But then I still felt it a bit, so I saw another doctor when I got here."

Having pulled out of the WTA event in Auckland, Robson played just over a set against Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium in Hobart before deciding not to risk any further damage. "I just wasn't quite ready to play a match, and didn't want to make anything worse," she said.

On paper, a first-round match with Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens, a semi-finalist at Wimbledon last summer, might seem a task too far, given the concern over her wrist. But Robson, who beat former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova here last year on the way to the third round, said she was confident that if she was fit, she could do some damage.

"I'm not someone who needs a load of practice to be able to play well," she said. "I've always been naturally quite good at hitting, I guess. I'm happy with how I'm playing right now. I've seen Flipkens play quite a few times. I've never played her, but she's a tricky player, she plays a lots of slices, comes in. It should be interesting."

A poor end to the year saw Robson slip in the rankings to No 46 and as she contemplates how to crack the top 10, she is hoping to add a bit of variety to her game.

"I would like to come in more," she said. "I think I've got the game for that. It's just picking the right shot to come in on. I never 100% got going in Asia [after the US Open] and that was really frustrating, but I think it's been a great off-season. I got a lot of work in, six, seven weeks in total, so it was good to be able to come over here and feel totally prepared, other than the wrist."

Robson will not be alone here after Heather Watson qualified for the main draw by beating Irina Falconi of Italy 6-4, 7-6. After suffering from glandular fever last year, Watson endured a difficult nine months in which she questioned her desire to carry on. But yesterday she was back to her normal bubbly normal self and will take on Daniela Hantuchova in round one. "It would have been the end of the world if I didn't get through," Watson said. "I'm very happy that I am through, but this is where it starts."

Serena Williams is the overwhelming favourite to win a sixth Australian Open title while Victoria Azarenka is the two-time defending champion.

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