Any hopes that Laura Robson had of easing her way back gently into tournament tennis were dashed in just 58 minutes against Russian opponenet Daria Gavrilova on a breezy court one at Devonshire Park on Saturday.
Robson received a wildcard into the qualifying rounds of the AEGON International Eastbourne and played No.1 seed qualifier Gavrilova in her first came back after a 17-month injury lay-off.
World No. 41 Gavrilova, making her debut at Eastbourne, has been in impressive form in recent weeks, scoring a win over world No.7 Ana Ivanovic in the second round in Rome before falling to Maria Sharapova in the semi-finals.
She played aggressive tennis from the start against Robson and easily took the first set 6-0. Robson was never allowed to find any rhythm and went down 6-1 in the second set.
Her solitary game brought huge cheers from a packed court one crowd and a wry smile of relief from the former British number-one.
Robson, 21, has not played since last year’s Australian Open because of an injury to her left wrist that required surgery just over a year ago.
My coach made a joke when I came off. He said, ‘there’s just one thing that you need to improve, and that’s everything!’Laura Robson
She had planned to return at last month’s French Open only for a hamstring injury to further delay her comeback.
Robson said, “To be honest it was a victory to just finish the match, back on court and playing tournaments and for that I’m very happy.
“It has been a lot of hard work a lot of patience and I have had a lot of great people helping me out. As a team we have really worked through it together.
“I’m not expecting to play my best tennis. It is going to take a while, it is going to take a lot more matches and practise and I’m very, very willing to do that.
“I’m not at the level I was at before I was injured so I have long way to go to get there.
“My coach made a joke when I came off. He said, ‘I’m so proud that you played a match and that you are back in a tournament and now there’s just one thing that you need to improve, and that’s everything!’”
Of the wrist injury she added, “The wrist feels perfect. It has been a while since I have had pain in my wrist so I feel very lucky for that to have happened and for it to have heeled so well.”
With Wimbledon just around the corner Robson remains hopeful of receiving one of the four remaining wildcards that are expected to be announced next week.
She added, “I have not heard about a wildcard as yet. Obviously I would love to play, it is my home tournament and it’s my favourite tournament of the year so I would love to get a chance play but we’ll see.”
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