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Page last updated at 20:25 GMT, Thursday, 3 July 2008 21:25 UK

Robson flies flag for Britain

By Chris Bevan
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Laura Robson
Robson will play Slovakia's Romana Tabakova for a place in the girls' final
As Britain's latest brave new tennis hope, Laura Robson is getting used to life in the spotlight at Wimbledon.

The 14-year-old, who lives a five-minute walk away from the All England Club, has blazed a trail into the semi-finals of the girls' junior singles at SW19.

The youngest player left in her event, she has already beaten the top seed and is bidding to become the first British player since Annabel Croft in 1984 to win junior Wimbledon.

"I would love to win this title," Robson told BBC Sport. "This is my local tournament and it is also the most traditional as well.

"I definitely did not think I would get to the semis so it is pretty good that I have done that."

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Robson's success so far is that it has come against older girls - you can compete in the junior events up until the age of 18.

But it is also refreshing that she is already thinking about how to make the step up to the senior ranks.

British tennis has seen many false dawns before - take Croft, or Jamie Delgado, as examples that top juniors do not always become world beaters.

Robson is delighted with her progress so far

So it is interesting that, as she prepares to take on Slovakia's Romana Tabakova in the last four on Friday, Robson has revealed Martina Hingis is her role model.

She has already worked with the Swiss star - who, after winning Wimbledon aged 16 in 1997, remains the youngest women's champion in the tournament's history - and seems to be learning a lot.

"I practiced with Martina for a week in her home in Switzerland so I know her quite well," Robson explained. "Watching her matches is always good.

"She said that when she played it was quite a different game because she could win by just playing smart.

"But now you have to be a lot stronger than she was. I think now is a different game to when she played."

Robson's run, which included victory over top seed Melanie Oudin on Monday, has captured the imagination of a success-starved British tennis public desperate for a new hero, or heroine.

606: DEBATE
kuzfan
But she has long been earmarked as a major talent and the Lawn Tennis Association's chief executive Roger Draper is not alone in calling her "one for the future".

Born in Melbourne in January 1994, she moved to Singapore when she was 18 months old and came to the UK when she was seven.

A 5ft 7in left-hander, her main strengths are her big first serve and a raking forehand, but the power she puts into her shots means she still makes plenty of mistakes.

She also shows her determination to succeed by constantly - and noisily - rebuking herself after any error.

But Carl Maes, the LTA's head of women's tennis, is happy for her to keep expressing herself.

"I think that will be part of her personality," he said, "She will have to learn how to cope with not being perfect.

"You can say it's unprofessional but at the end of the day, it's about winning, and if she can vent her frustration like that and win the next point I don't mind the odd squeak."

Right now, Robson seems to find facing the British media a more daunting prospect than any potential opponent.

In her press conference following her 7-5 6-4 quarter-final win over Serbia's Bolana Jovanovski on Thursday, Robson said: "I am a bit nervous being in here again.

"It is still quite nerve-racking, but I am getting used to it."

I hope we will see her one day on Centre Court, that's what she wants, that's her dream. We're just along for the journey

Laura's mother Kathy
She is working hard at continuing to improve her game but says that a hectic training schedule still leaves room for being a typical teenager.

"I am at the national tennis centre just about every day," she explained.

"If I am not there, then I am travelling at tournaments or something. It is a full-time job.

"But I still get to do what other 14-year-olds do, like go to the cinema, but maybe not as often. I still have a bit of a life though."

Robson plays her saxophone, listens to music and watches DVDs to get away from tennis but she does not escape being given chores by her mother Kathy, who hopes to see her enjoy more success here.

"It's all a great experience for her, that's why she's here. She is 14, she has got nothing to lose," Kathy said.

"I hope we will see her one day on Centre Court, that's what she wants, that's her dream. We're just along for the journey.

"But she still has to make her bed in the morning and put the dishes away. She's a good little girl and keeps her nose clean."


see also
Wimbledon day 10 as it happened
03 Jul 08 |  Tennis
Murray warns British youngsters
25 Sep 07 |  Tennis
Hingis rules out return to Tour
13 Jun 08 |  Tennis


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