Nathan Robertson’s laidback demeanour on the court is a camouflage for the fiercely competitive brain that hates to loose. The 32-year-old Englishman still has difficulty accepting defeat and sometimes throws tantrums or breaks racquets after losing.
A maverick on and off the court, Robertson is one of the most dreaded opponents on the doubles circuit and even his own partners tend to be scared of his mood swings at times.
“I don’t think even my partners like to play with me,” said the 2006 mixed world champion. “Sometimes I joke or just lose my temper on the court. But thankfully they (partners) are used to it now.”
Robertson has formed a successful men’s doubles partnership with Anthony Clark and has been grooming the young Jenny Walkwork for the 2012 London Olympics since his regular partner Gail Emms retired two years back. Both the pairs will be strong contenders for gold in the Commonwealth Games and the veteran shuttler will be expected to play a major role in helping England win a gold in the team championship as well.
Considering his role in the squad, the English contingent has also decided to make him the team’s flag bearer for the opening ceremony, an honour normally reserved for swimmers and athletes.
With the London Olympics just two years away, the defending mixed doubles champion has already started planning and now after his partnership with Wallwork has started clicking, things are looking good for Robertson. They won a bronze medal in the European championship in April this month and have climbed to tenth in the world rankings and will be seeded first here. “We picked her as my partner because she is very aggressive like Gails. But it took us many months to gel together,” he says.
One of the reasons for that was the difficulty attached to getting used to Robertson’s playing style and as Wallwork puts it: “He reads the game very well. He may look slipshod but will always be in the right position at the right time. But now I can understand what he is doing.” Ask her about Robertson’s mood swings and she brushes them aside with a smile. “You don’t want to make it too easy for your partner also,” said Robertson, tongue firmly in his cheeks. But he was also quick to add that he was working on managing his mood swings. Once that’s done, Robertson might prove more than a handful for his opponents.