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Robson’s column: ‘Mixed dubs partner’ Murray will want to finish on a high

In her latest Sky Sports column, Laura Robson reflects on running with Gigi Salmon in Doha, Andy Murray’s retirement plans, and she looks ahead to Indian Wells where 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal makes his comeback from injury…

Gigi Salmon and Laura Robson 10k run in Doha
Image: Laura and tennis presenter Gigi Salmon ran a 10k run in Doha

I’ve got to start by talking about how Gigi (Salmon) roped me into a 10k run when we were working for Sky Sports Tennis in Doha. I’m not a runner and for someone who’s had three hip surgeries it wasn’t something that I had planned on doing, but then I always get a bit competitive so initially I was like ‘no Gigi, I’m going to run with you, it’s going to be great but then on the day of the run, I got her blessing before I did it, but I started legging it as soon as the race actually started.

I was happy with my time but now it’s actually got me going. I’ve got the itch and I keep sending her entries for half marathons so we might have to do another at some point. Indian Wells is definitely too hilly but Miami could be an option.

I was aiming for under an hour and it ended up being 54 minutes but I was struggling during the last 3k.

That Azarenka interview!

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Victoria Azarenka says she wants to continue to be a good role model for her son and admits the moments of open communication between them are priceless

We covered just about every topic during the interview with Victoria Azarenka in Doha. We were told three minutes but she didn’t want to put the mic down. We covered horse riding and a little bit of tennis but there was talk of me and Vika doing a horse riding expedition at Richmond Park this summer.

I thought Iga Swiatek played the most consistent tennis in Doha and it was a great week for her and Elena Rybakina, who is having a ridiculous season.

We need more female coaches on tour

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Jasmine Paolini came from a set down to defeat Anna Kalinskaya in the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships

I was surprised by Jasmine Paolini and Anna Kalinskaya making the Dubai final. I just think it’s great to see two players who played well at the Australian Open back it up.

Kalinskaya has cracked the top 30 and I’ve been impressed with her the last couple of years. I feel like she’s always going to be dangerous now that she’s got some confidence back and she doesn’t give much away.

Anna Kalinskaya of Russia plays a backhand return to Zheng Qinwen of China during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championships at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Louise Delmotte)
Image: Anna Kalinskaya has been compared to former Wimbledon semi-finalist Anna Kournikova

Her coach [Patricia Tarabini] has done wonders with her and I think having a female coach can sometimes make a difference. I can potentially see the Anna Kournikova connection but I’m of the view that I don’t like to compare anyone to a previous player.

I would love to see more female coaches on the tour but logistically it tends to be harder because a lot of them have kids and they don’t want to travel as much. It’s a huge commitment to be full-time on the tour. It ends up being 40 weeks a year if you’re not living where your player is training. I think the female coaches understand more about the stress but fingers crossed we will start to see a few more.

Who knows when Murray will retire!

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Andy Murray reveals he will most likely not play past this summer but hopes to play at the Paris Olympics before he retires from tennis

Moving on to Andy Murray and you can see he was kind of sick of being asked the same question, which we can start to see. I felt like that the last few months was a lot and then for him to go into every match with people thinking it’s his last one or maybe it’s not, makes it more stressful for him on court.

You can kind of see that he’s not loving it at the moment and so what I hope for the next few months is that he gets that enjoyment back and he finishes on a big high. I hope he has a really good run, hopefully at Wimbledon, and gets himself in a good position mentally to finish not necessarily winning Wimbledon or anything like that, but he’s still capable of a really great run somewhere.

But if he does go on a run, then who knows! We have stopped trying to guess. He will say when it’s his last week and that’s all we’ll hear from him. I think he’s probably changed his mind about 50 times this year!

Maybe he’s got a date in mind, but maybe he doesn’t. I think it depends on results, doesn’t it? If we get three or four months down the line and he’s still not enjoying it and not getting past the second round then I feel like the goalposts will move and equally if he goes on a run, he might extend his career.

I remember us playing together at the London Olympics in 2012. We just had a great week and he was playing absurdly well in singles, which always helps in any sort of mixed doubles match, so I was just along for the ride a little bit. I had a great week playing singles, doubles and mixed. I didn’t expect to play all three but it was the best energy you could imagine which took over the whole of the country, definitely the whole of London.

He still says ‘mixed dubs partner’ to me, so I’ll take it.

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A not so happy Murray says he has ‘no idea’ what he’s doing during his defeat to Ugo Humbert in Dubai

Conditions are not easy but Indian Wells will be exciting

Indian Wells Tennis Garden amid the global coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, Saturday, May 17, 2020, in Indian Wells, Calif. The IWTG contains 29 tennis courts, including a 16,100-seat Stadium 1, 11 match courts, six practice courts, and two Har-Tru clay courts on 88 acres (360,000 m). Stadium 1 is the second largest tennis-specific stadium in the world. (Kirby Lee via AP)
Image: Welcome to tennis paradise! Indian Wells a 16,100-seat main stadium court, 11 match courts, six practice courts, and two Har-Tru clay courts on 88 acres of land

Now we head to Indian Wells and I’m excited about being on site. I haven’t been there for a couple of years and everyone tells me that the upgrades the tournament has had are amazing. It’s consistently voted the top Masters 1000 event by the players so it’s a really great time for everyone to give themselves a chance to play tennis.

I wouldn’t say the conditions are super easy. In the day it’s really hot and then it gets super blustery at night and sometimes very, very windy. I wouldn’t say I ever enjoyed playing there because the courts are very slow, but I will definitely enjoy working there.

We haven’t seen much of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Aryna Sabalenka so there will be a few storylines to follow.

Rafael Nadal, of Spain, reacts after winning a match against Sebastian Korda at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament Saturday, March 12, 2022, in Indian Wells, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Image: Rafael Nadal makes his return at Indian Wells

I’m hoping Rafa does well. He was playing really well in Brisbane but his injury cut off the momentum and I think the way he plays, which is so physical and intense, he’ll put himself in a good position to beat just about anyone. I’m excited to see him and all the Americans as well.

As for the Brits, definitely can’t wait to see Jack Draper and Katie Boulter and Cam Norrie always plays well at Indian Wells. I’d like to see Evo [Dan Evans] play himself into a bit of form and I always feel like Emma Raducanu and Jodie Burrage can do well on hardcourts.

There’s a new story in tennis every week!

How to watch play on Sky Sports Tennis

The stars of tennis will appear on the new Sky Sports Tennis channel every day
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For further access, fans will also be able to follow their favourite players and gain deeper insights from both Tours via Sky Sports News, the Sky Sports app, on SkySports.com and via Sky Sports social channels.

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Laura Robson was speaking to Sky Sports’ Raz Mirza. Watch the WTA and ATP Tours throughout 2024 on Sky Sports Tennis. Stream Sky Sports Tennis and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – just £21 a month for 12 months. No contract, cancel anytime.

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