© Ella Ling

Laura Robson

Olympics exclusive: "Andy has to ask me."


Britain’s top women are in the Israeli resort of Eilat this week for the Fed Cup but aside from their attempts to win promotion from Europe/Africa Group I, there could also be an interesting discussion going on with regard to this summer’s Olympic Games. All four of those present –  Elena Baltacha, Anne Keothavong, Heather Watson and Laura Robson are aiming to be in the singles on merit, rather than relying on a wildcard, which means being in the top 70 by around the French Open.

But there is also the doubles and mixed doubles to think about and 18-year-old Robson has struck first by telling The Tennis Space that Murray will have to ask her if he wants to play with her in London.

The 18-year-old, who has climbed to No 118 after winning three matches in qualifying for the main draw at the Australian Open, played with Murray at the Hopman Cup two years ago when the pair laughed and joked their way to the final of the mixed team event.

That prompted Murray to ask her if she fancied playing in London, to which her cheeky response was: “I’ll think about it”.

And speaking exclusively to The Tennis Space, Robson said the world No 4 will have to take the initiative if he wants to go for gold in the mixed when the Olympics is played at Wimbledon this summer. “He’s going to have to ask me again,” Robson laughed. “But I don’t even know if he wants to play, so we’ll see. I haven’t said anything to him yet.”

Robson is a fine doubles player and the two clearly get along so the chances of them teaming up would appear to be fairly strong, even if Baltacha (57), Keothavong (88) and Heather Watson (107) are all ranked above her.

“I think I’m not really in the position to ask Andy,” Robson said. “There’s a bit of a ranking difference so I think he should be the one to ask me. And there are also a lot of other girls who would love to play with him.”

In the end it will be up to Murray to decide if he even wants to play in the mixed event, of course, since he will be going for gold in the singles and could well play men’s doubles with his brother Jamie, or even Ross Hutchins or Colin Fleming, both of whom would also fancy their chances in the mixed.

Playing a home Olympics has got all the British players dreaming of glory and Robson explained how important it is to her in 2012. “It’s the main goal I have for the whole year,” she said. “To be able to do that would be special and to play in my home Olympics would be incredible, especially because it’s going to be down the road from where I live. I’m not going to put too much focus on it in case it doesn’t happen but I’ve got a few more months to get there and hopefully I’ll do it.”

The lure of the Olympics has got every nation at it, it seems, with a number of potential pairs for London testing things out in Australia over the past fortnight. An untimely injury to Andy Roddick prevented him from joining up with Serena Williams but the Americans are set to join forces in London. “It’s my best chance of a gold medal by far,” Roddick joked.

If Venus Williams is fit and healthy then the Bryan brothers may fight over her, although Melbourne mixed doubles champion Bethanie Mattek-Sands is another possibility.

Mahesh Bhupathi and Sania Mirza got to the semis of the mixed in Melbourne and seem ready to team up in London, while remarkably Tommy Haas would appear to have his pick of Germany’s top women, with Sabine Lisicki favourite.

The Tennis Space’s agony uncle, Dmitry Tursunov, has been teasing Russia’s top women that they need to show some form before they get his vote, so he’ll have been delighted to see Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva win the women’s doubles in Melbourne. And having considered playing with Martina Hingis, there are even rumours in Switzerland that Roger Federer could join up with Romina Oprandi, who has changed her nationality back from Italian.