Author: David Archer
Published: 15:01 18/01/2013
In a battle over three long sets, Brit Laura Robson’s confidence gave her the edge over former Wimbledon Champion and eighth seed Petra Kvitova who was beaten 2-6, 6-3,11-9 in round 3 of the Australian Open. In the sweltering 35C heat of night-time Melbourne, the two tennis players slogged it out on the Rod Laver arena in a match littered with double-faults, erratic forehands, and the screaming of the Czech that towards the end threatened to deafen the enthralled spectators, many of whom stayed until after midnight to watch the conclusion of the match.
Melbourne-born Robson reckoned that it was an “ugly match” and, in truth, rallies were short and ridden with unforced errors on both sides of the net, but Robson’s positive attitude, bolstered by the serious body conditioning work she undertook over Christmas under the direction of Croatian coach Zelijko Krajan, gave her the edge in the final set where Kvitova squandered her 3-1, 30-love lead with three double faults.
The 18-year-old now enters the 4th Round of the Australian Open as the only British contender, Heather Watson having been defeated in straight sets by fourth seed Agnieska Radwanska in her 3rd Round match. Robson faces a match against American Sloane Stephens who, at the age of 19, is ranked 25 in the world and is the youngest women in the WTA Top 40. The prospect of a match between the two young talents is enticing, particularly as Florida-born Stephens defeated Laura Robson in straight sets in Hobart last week. Stephens has steely support from the American Williams sisters and Serena Williams says “I watch her a lot because I’m actually a Sloane Stephen’s fan. She’s a good player, serves well, runs really well and she doesn’t miss”.
Robson acknowledges that the match against Stephens will be “tough”, and she will not start the match as favourite. Bookmaker Bet365 offers odds of 4/7 that Stephens will be victorious, with the best odds for a Robson win of 13/8 from Sportingbet . Robson’s gutsy performance against Kvitova has helped dispel the long-held belief that she has the enormous ground strokes and powerful serve to make her a champion, but that she lacked the self-belief and tenacity to deliver wins against the top players. The match against Stephens will test her to the max.
Fashion and fun-loving Robson, who released a popular Gangman Style tribute last year with fellow player Genie Bouchard, says "In slams I think it's very easy to go on court with nothing to lose and I always have great support, so it's very easy to play at slams. But consistency throughout the year is what counts." True, but we are sure she will be looking for a historic win against Stephens nonetheless!
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