• Australian Open

Robson must learn to suffer - Evert

Nick Atkin
January 10, 2014 « Serena 'can complete 2014 Grand Slam' | Chartbeat test »
Laura Robson retired in her first-round match at the Hobart International with a wrist injury © Getty Images
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Laura Robson "has to learn to suffer" if she is to become one of the world's top players, according to 18-time grand slam singles champion Chris Evert.

Robson enjoyed an up and down year in 2013, reaching the top 50 for the first time in her career and progressing to the second week of Wimbledon, though suffered a wrist injury and split with her coach Miles Maclagan as her season tailed off.

Having teamed up with veteran American coach Nick Saviano in November, a recurrence of the wrist injury forced the 19-year-old to retire in her first-round match at the Hobart International earlier this week, however she has been drawn to face Belgian 18th seed Kirsten Flipkens in the opening round of the Australian Open.

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However she fares in Melbourne, former world No. 1 Evert believes Robson is still primed to have a breakthrough year - providing she keeps improving her fitness.

"Laura is very powerful; she's very bold in her shot selection, and she's got weapons. Her fitness has been the thing she's needed to work on a little bit more," Evert told ESPN. "She hasn't always been as disciplined as she could be, and I think she got criticism from her last coach [Maclagan] because of that.

"She's just a really happy-go-lucky, kind of carefree, outgoing girl. She has to learn to really be disciplined, work hard, get her nose to the grindstone and suffer a little bit more because I don't think she has.

"She needs to improve on the mental and the emotional aspect of being really solid and really tough a little bit more. I think it can happen - she showed us that she can win matches and she can beat top players. But can she do it consistently?

"It's maturing - she needs to mature a little bit more, to discover and really think about how much tennis means to her, that hunger factor. All the other top players seem to have it, maybe a little bit more than she does.

"But the bottom line is her fitness. If she can really get that fitness going, be in good cardiovascular and muscular shape, and be tough out there I think that's going help her mentally and emotionally as well.

"Laura went a good route changing her coach to Nick Saviano, I think he can help her game a lot. I have a lot of respect for him.

"You've got to be bold and not be afraid. And that's what she is, and that's what is going to get her far."

Nick Atkin is an assistant editor at ESPN. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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