Friday, August 31, 2012
Laura Robson pulls off another upset
ESPN.com news services
NEW YORK -- British teen Laura Robson faces a former Grand Slam champion in her next match at the U.S. Open, which shouldn't feel the least bit intimidating.
Not after she beat four-time major winner Kim Clijsters and 2011 French Open champ Li Na in three days. Next up is Samantha Stosur, the defending champion at Flushing Meadows.
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"She's obviously full of confidence and had two very, very good wins," Stosur said.
The 18-year-old Robson knocked out Li 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-2 on Friday. Ranked 89th, Robson never had been past the second round of a major tournament or defeated a top-10 opponent before this year's U.S. Open. Now she's done both after eliminating the ninth-seeded Li.
Robson put her hands to her head in shocked joy after the Chinese star returned her serve long on the final point.
"I have had lots of tough matches against some very experienced opponents, so the way that I see it, it was time to start winning a few of them," she said.
She showed poise after failing to close out the match in the second-set tiebreaker, then overcoming two incorrect calls in the third set where she had to replay points she would've won if the initial ruling had been right.
With a break point on Li's serve at 2-2 in the final set, Robson's return clipped the baseline and Li hit the ball wide. But the line judge called Robson's shot out and, after a review overturned it, Robson lost the replayed point. Li won the next point as well to earn game point. But with the Louis Armstrong Stadium crowd roaring its support, Robson rallied back to get the break.
"I was a little bit annoyed. But that's what happens from time to time, so you've got to deal with it," she said. "I think being a little bit annoyed seemed to help me, seeing as I broke the first game then I held serve the next time it happened."
Laura Robson reacts during her match against China's Li Na in the third round of the 2012 U.S. Open.
On Wednesday, Robson ended Clijsters' career, winning both sets in tiebreakers in the second round against the 23rd-seeded Belgian. Robson's career may now be really getting started.
She became the next great British hope when she captured the 2008 Wimbledon girls title at age 14. Four years later, injury-free for the first time in a while, she seems to be reaching that potential, the youngest woman ranked in the top 100.
"I'm only 18, so if I was that negative a year ago, then who knows what I'm going to be like in a few years," Robson said of whether she ever doubted her future. "But, no, I have always thought that I can play with the top girls. Whenever I've practiced with, you know, Caroline or Maria, I've always felt that the level was there. It was just taking that onto the match court and keeping the level up for the whole match."
And she became the first British woman to make the fourth round at a Grand Slam event since Sam Smith at 1998 Wimbledon. Robson had 27 unforced errors to 34 by the 30-year-old Li.
"I was making a lot of mistakes in my whole match, so of course give a lot of free points to her," Li said. "Made her like, 'Oh, I got more confidence. Oh, I can beat her.' "
For the second time in three matches, top-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus dropped only a single game, beating No. 28 Zheng Jie of China 6-0, 6-1 on Friday night to move to the fourth round.
Azarenka finished in 59 minutes and the fans were headed home by 10:15 p.m. -- another early finish at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Azarenka won 50 of the 77 points against Zheng, who has never been past the third round at Flushing Meadows.
So far, Azarenka has lost only six games in three matches over the first week.
No. 3 seed Maria Sharapova won 12 of the last 13 points of her match Friday to defeat NCAA runner-up Mallory Burdette 6-1, 6-1 and advance to the fourth round.
Sharapova, who completed the career Grand Slam earlier this year at the French Open, needed only 58 minutes at 90-degree Arthur Ashe Stadium to wrap up the win over Burdette, who will be a senior at Stanford this year.
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Sharapova has not been tested so far this year at Flushing Meadows, losing a total of seven games over her first three matches.
Since winning the U.S. Open in 2006, this is only the second time Sharapova has advanced to the round of 16.
Stosur was pushed for the first time in this year's Open by American Varvara Lepchenko, but dominated the second set after winning the first in a tiebreaker. The seventh-seeded Stosur, who won 7-6 (5), 6-2, had dropped just five games through her first two matches.
It was still a successful Open for the 31st-seeded Lepchenko. After reaching at least the third round in three straight Grand Slam events, she'll likely climb into the top 30 in the rankings.
Fifth-seeded Petra Kvitova, the 2011 Wimbledon champ, beat Pauline Parmentier 6-4, 6-4. She next faces 11th-seeded Marion Bartoli.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.