By Ros Satar
- Wildcard Laura Robson takes on Evgeniya Rodina in the first round
- Johanna Konta acquits herself well against recovered Maria Sharapova
- Naomi Broady bows out to Mariana Duque-Marino
- Heather Watson splits sets with Caroline Garcia before play suspended for bad light
Laura Robson will play her second competitive match after returning to the tour following a 17-month injury absence and wrist surgery, when she faces Evgeniya Rodina in the first round at Wimbledon.
Her return has been a long time coming, having been postponed many times over the course of the year. She admitted in her pre-tournament press conference that it had been in plan to play at the Australian Open, and then the French Open, but on her return last week at Eastbourne, she confirmed that despite a 6-0 6-1 score-line, the wrist had felt fine.
But despite the fact that the former fourth-rounder could probably face a winnable match here, Robson is wisely setting the expectations of a nation.
“I know how well I’ve played and practiced. But obviously it doesn’t always translate to matches, as you must know. So my coach, my trainer, we’re all very patient. If I don’t play well, then it’s not the end of the world, because we all learn in tennis that there’s always next week, there’s always going to be another week for me, because I’m injury‑free, I think that’s the main thing.
“If it doesn’t work out after this tournament, I’m going to go play some challengers in America. It’s going to take a while.”
She admitted that perhaps one of the biggest stages in sport might not be the best place to come back. But back she is, against Rodina who has picked up plenty of titles on the ITF circuit but has had a few absences herself on the tour. That being said, she reached the third round of Wimbledon in2008 and has been in the Top 100.
This is likely to be a challenging start for Robson, admitted that her timing, and pace in a match needed a lot of work, but the crowd support at Eastbourne had lifted her, and she can expect more of the same.
Johanna Konta certainly acquitted herself well against the 2004 champion, pushing her all the way in the first game, and battling all the way to the first break against her. However Sharapova is not one to let a break get away from her, as the World No. 4 shook the rust off, to come from losing a break at the start of the second set for a 6-2 6-2 win.
But Konta is nothing if not pragmatic, and has truly enjoyed a great grass court season and run (and will meet the Williams sisters in the first round of the doubles!).
She said: “To be honest, in terms of stage and scenario, I felt very comfortable out there. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the situation, nor did I feel overwhelmed by the player I was playing.
“You know, obviously I went out there with belief in myself that I can do my best out there, and I did do my best out there. Unfortunately today it wasn’t quite as good as I wanted it to be.
“But I did play Maria Sharapova. You know, she has the reputation that she has for a reason. To be honest, I’m just very grateful for the All England Club for giving me the opportunity to go out there on such a beautiful day.”
Naomi Broady was not quite able to mimic her baby brother Liam’s success as she was edged out of a tight match against Mariana Duque-Marino 7-6(5) 6-3, managing to get on court before the British No. 1 Heather Watson, who was shunted to Court 12 after Lleyton Hewitt’s farewell match went to five sets.
It was a quick start by WTA Rising Star Caroline Garcia against the Brit struggled to stay on terms, with the first set getting away from her very quickly. But it was a truly revitalised Watson who broke straight back after being broken early again by the Frenchwoman. This time it was Watson who built up a swift 4-1 lead, and eventually closed out the second set, but with the lights fading and Hawkeye not working in the dusk, the decision was taken to suspend play for a one-set shoot-out.
Play continues on Tuesday, starting at 11:30am on the outside courts and 1pm on Centre and Court No. 1 (BST).