x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Murray fails to serve up a birthday treat for Robson

Laura Robson, Britain's promising schoolgirl talent, has had her eyes all week on an early 16th birthday present that winning the Hopman Cup would have given her. The talented youngster, a former Wimbledon junior champion, must have thought that she was going to help Britain win the team competition and win a glittering diamond-encrusted tennis ball given to the winning players, after she pulled off her first singles win of the tournament by beating the world No 26 Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-1, 7-6 in the first rubber of yesterday's final against Spain.

Backing her up was the in-form Andy Murray, who had won all of his matches on the way to his country's first appearance in the final of the 20-year-old team event. However, Murray, following a different route to this month's Australian Open than he has in previous campaigns, was found lacking and came unstuck 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 at the hands of Tommy Robredo. That left the destination of the trophy to be determined by the mixed doubles and the Spanish pairing prevailed in two tight sets 7-6, 7-5 to leave Murray in apologetic mood.

"I guess I let Laura down today so I feel bad about that," said Murray, who was otherwise pleased with his build-up for the first grand slam of the new season which begins in Melbourne on January 18. "She is perhaps a little more disappointed than me because of the diamonds, but I told her she can buy them with the prize money." The runners-up cheque for Aus$75,000 (Dh254,600) was Robson's biggest pay day of a fledgling career.

Equally important to her was a wild card into qualifying for the Australian Open and Murray believes that she can defy a world ranking of 403 to earn a place in the 128-woman line-up. "She did great today beating a girl who is ranked 26 in the world," said Murray. "At her age that is amazing." The Scot added: "She has the potential. I know what it's like at that age and she is only going to get better." @Email:wjohnson@thenational.ae