Laura Robson is starting to believe in herself again as her comeback from a nightmare 18 months out injured continues at the US Open on Tuesday.
Robson was considered one of the most promising players on the circuit after she reached the Wimbledon fourth round two years ago but a chronic wrist injury has since derailed her progress.
The 21-year-old was unable to play a competitive match from mid-January 2014 until June this year and while she now feels fully fit ahead of her first-round match against Russian Elena Vesnina at Flushing Meadows, recent results have been understandably erratic.
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After opening-round losses at Eastbourne and Wimbledon, Robson managed a first tour victory in Canada before her rehabilitation was interrupted earlier this month by a stomach strain.
The injury proved a minor setback, however, and there was a glimmer of light in New Haven last week when victory over American Alexa Graham was followed by a narrow three-set defeat to world number 59 Christna McHale, a match in which Robson led by a set and 5-3.
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It has been a long journey back for the former British number one but Robson says that performance against McHale has given her renewed belief she can return to her former heights.
"To be honest from the first set and up until 5-3 in the second I played some really great tennis. It was tennis of the level I was at before," Robson said.
"In that way I was very encouraged by it. My coach was saying he knew I was able to play at that level again but I don't think deep down I did.
"So to be able to play that way was a very positive thing. It's just a shame I couldn't keep that level going for another game.
"When it comes down to it she ended played better than I did over the course of three sets. I was disappointed but things are getting better."
Robson has had to endure defeats to players she would previously have had little trouble in beating and she admits it has taken mental strength, as well as help from a psychiatrist in Florida, to maintain perspective.
"There's a guy where I live in Florida who I speak to quite a lot," Robson said. "I like it and I think it can only help. If it helps at that one point when you get nervous then it's definitely worth it."
Robson continued: "It involves a lot of positive words from my coach.
"Trying not to over-think it. Trying not to say, 'I'm a terrible player', just because I lost this one match to someone who is ranked such-and-such.
"Because when you look at it, I'm ranked lower than they are. It's going to take time and losing is part of that. Every match has been better and better."
Robson currently sits at a lowly 618 in the world but she has used her protected ranking, which is available to players after long-term injuries, to enter the US Open.
Repeating her best run in New York, which saw her reach the fourth round in 2012, may be too much to ask but Robson insists victory over Vesnina is not beyond her.
"I think you have to go in thinking you can win - I feel confident enough to say I definitely have a chance of winning," Robson said.
"I played doubles against her at Wimbledon and I know how she plays. I'm just going to see how it goes and try my best."
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