This evening, British teenager Laura Robson recorded a superb 7-6 7-6 win over Belgium’s Kim Clijsters in the second round of the US Open. Whilst defeat for Clijsters signals the end of a glittering and illustrious career, for Robson it showed the huge promise, potential and talent that the Londoner possesses.
Robson, who at 18 is the youngest player inside the world’s top 100, was in imperious form throughout the match. Coming from 5-2 down in the first set, she showed great mental strength to level at 5-5 before taking the set in the tie break, whilst she again came from a break down – and saved numerous break points – in the second set, where she again triumphed in the tie break.
The manner of Robson’s performance was excellent. She attacked the misfiring Clijsters serve, stepping forward and powerfully hitting through shots that immediately put her opponent on the back foot, whilst – although there were a few shaky moment – Robson herself served strongly, hitting several aces and winning a number of cheap points.
The teenager also showed that she has what is takes to battle with the players at the top of the game, entering numerous long rallies with the three times US Grand Slam champion, and coming out on top on a good number of occasions. Her forehand was a particular weapon, hitting powerfully through the ball that at times left Clijsters struggling to return.
It wasn’t just Robson’s performance that was impressive, however, but also the manner of it. She showed little of the nerves that have surfaced at times in her short career as she confidently closed out the match, hitting two stunning forehands off the Clijsters serve deep in the tie break that ultimately proved crucial as she set up match point. She also held serve admirably from some sticky situations, with Clijsters failing to cash in on several break points throughout both sets.
Indeed, throughout the match Robson’s performance levels didn’t drop. When she was down, she fought back to take the lead, whilst she didn’t suffer the concentration lull that British tennis fans have become accustomed to of any British tennis player.
This perhaps shows just how crucial an experience the London 2012 Olympics was to Robson, where, with a late entry into the mixed doubles alongside British number 1 Andy Murray, Robson picked up a silver medal after a fantastic run to the final. The high pressure situations in front of big crowds that the youngster was put under will undoubtedly prove to be a vital learning curve to the teenager, who at a young age is yet to play too many “big” matches.
Up next for Robson is another “big” match, however, and another tough opponent in the form of China’s Li Na, who funnily enough knocked Heather Watson out of this years tournament at the first hurdle. This will be another tough test for the 18-year old, who’s ranking will now soar thanks to the points picked up in New York. Li is a strong player from the back of the court, able to find acute angles with powerful drives difficult for any player to return. But if Robson serves and returns like she did today, then anything is possible.