Robson advances past Li Na


TENNIS/US OPEN:LAURA ROBSON, playing with the freedom and flaws of her tender years, delivered the biggest win by a British woman in more than 20 years when she advanced to the fourth round of the US Open here with a three-sets win over the No 9 seed, Li Na.

It took her two hours and 25 minutes to overcome the former French Open champion 6-4, 6-7, 6-2 in a stifling Louis Armstrong Stadium and she next plays the Australian Sam Stosur, the defending champion. It does not get any easier, nor should it.

Robson, a junior girls champion at Wimbledon at 14, is finally in the big time. Afterwards she said her plan had just been to take on her shots. “I knew if I kept sticking with her and playing my shots it might pay off and it did,” she said.

“I had a few break points early on and I gave them up with average returning, so when I got a chance I knew I had to go for it. She’s a great hitter. I’m going to go back to the gym and try to recover for the next match. I’ve been injured loads in the past and this is my first time injury free. That’s the biggest improvement and difference.”

Robson is the first British woman to go this deep in a major since Sam Smith at Wimbledon in 1998, and the first here since Jo Durie in 1991. This comes after her victory over the former world No 1 Kim Clijsters on Wednesday, when she sent the Belgian into retirement a valiant loser.

These are fantastic achievements – and she is still only 18, a relative baby on the tour. Her promise glistens more brightly by the day.

Andy Murray, meanwhile, faces Feliciano Lopez in the men’s third round tonight. The Spaniard knows he has a monumental task to shift Murray out of the picture here. It is as if all the good points in his game – serve, speed, willingness to go forward – are automatically negated by Murray’s guile.

That was certainly the way it went when they collided here in 2011, Murray hitting a pitch of perfection. For Lopez, though, the history goes deeper than even that.

“I remember he played a great match at Wimbledon [that year] at a time when I was playing my best tennis, having beaten [Andy] Roddick and some good players.

“He found a way to return my serve pretty easy, although it was a bit of a different match in New York. It was really windy and I didn’t play my best. I just hope to play much better. It is only one year ago, so I don’t think that anything has changed that much.”

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