In Depth

Johanna Konta eclipses forgotten tennis darling Laura Robson

In 2013, few people would have guessed the identity of Britain's first Wimbledon semi-finalist for a generation

After Johanna Konta became the first British woman to make it to a Wimbledon semi-final in 39 years, tennis fans should spare a thought for Laura Robson, the forgotten darling of SW19 whose career has nosedived as Konta's has soared.

Four years ago it was Robson, then 19, marching up the rankings and appearing to be on the cusp of greatness.

Konta, in contrast, was newly arrived in the UK and ranked outside the top 200, playing "third fiddle" to Robson and Heather Watson, says the BBC.

However, by the end of 2016, she had become Britain's first top-ten player in more than 30 years and was voted as the WTA's most improved player by her peers.

"Now, after seeing off [Simona] Halep, the world number seven is the highest-ranked woman in the Wimbledon semi-finals," says the BBC.

This was the path Robson was supposed to take. The left-hander, who, like Konta, was born in Australia, was already well known to tennis fans after winning the junior Wimbledon title in 2008. She went on to beat some of the biggest names on the tour and in 2012, won silver at the London Olympics in the mixed doubles with Andy Murray.

It seemed as if 2013 would be her breakthrough year, becoming the first British woman to make the second week of Wimbledon this century and leaping to 27 in the world rankings, the first Briton to crack the top 30 since Jo Durie in 1987.

However, it proved to be the high-water mark of her career so far.

After also making the fourth round of the US Open, things began to go awry for Robson. She split with her coach Miles Maclagan and then, more significantly, suffered a wrist injury.

After a year out, her comeback in 2015 was not a success. She also had to have another operation on her wrist. 

Since returning to the sport last year, Robson has struggled to climb the rankings and is currently ranked 177.

She rubs shoulders with Konta and Watson at Fed Cup events and they appear to have an excellent relationship, but she now spends much of her time on the challenger circuit.

Her wildcard entry for Wimbledon this year saw her lose to Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil on the opening morning of the tournament. Few noticed her departure, with all attention on Konta and Watson.

"Konta, at 26, has become the player that Laura Robson - still only 23 - often was and might yet be again," says The Guardian. "An uncompromising hitter whose core strategy is to drill the ball deep, shot after shot, and grind her opponent down. Robson probably hit the ball harder at her peak before injury cut her down, but Konta has a more mechanical and reliable swing that brings her winners through attrition rather than spectacularly."

However, it may not be too late for Robson," says the Daily Telegraph.

"It’s not unrealistic to think she can climb back among the game's elite – especially as a time when the women's game is wide open," it adds.

"Robson has shown signs of moving in the right direction by winning her biggest tournament of her career last month, the ITF 60k Kurume tournament in Japan. It was her third ITF title of her career and moved her up to 169 in the rankings. But defeat in 66 minutes on the first day of Wimbledon, where she was granted a wildcard, puts her career at a crossroads."

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