The Australian swing offers five tournaments during the fortnight before action gets under way in Melbourne, but Robson was forced to pull out of last week’s ASB Classic in Auckland with a left wrist problem, and today she retired mid-way through her first match at the Hobart International in Tasmania.
The left-handed Robson, who turns 20 later this month, won the first set 6-4 but conceded a break with a double fault to go 0-2 down in the second against the big-hitting Yanina Wickmayer. At that point, Robson retired, citing the same wrist problem.
A year ago, the Briton who was born in Australia lost in the first round at Hobart to Sloane Stephens but went on to reach the third round in Melbourne with one of her now obligatory giant-killing wins over a Grand Slam champion, on that occasion Petra Kvitova.
Come May, she beat No4 Agnieszka Radwanska in Madrid and then Venus Williams in Rome. Those wins, though, were punctuated by seven first-round losses until her best-yet Wimbledon run to the fourth round.
By coincidence, Robson pulled out of her opening match, also with a wrist problem and against the same Wickmayer, at the Rogers Cup in Toronto in August. However, she went on to reach the third round at the US Open, where she was seeded in a Slam for the first time, followed by the quarters in Guangzhou.
She won only one more match from her three remaining tournaments in 2013 to end the year ranked at 46, and subsequently parted ways with coach Miles Maclagan—her third change during 2013.
In November, she joined forces with 31-year-old American Jesse Witten as her travelling coach and hitting partner. She and Witten were also scheduled to work with Nick Saviano, at whose academy in Florida Robson was based for her off-season training block.
Robson’s new coaching arrangement, though, will remain untested ahead of the Australian Open, where she will once again finds herself unseeded but now trying to defend 160 points and the prospect of a slip outside the top 50.
The Australian Open begins on 13 January.