29 August 2012

Laura Robson Ends Clijsters Career In Style At Flushing Meadows

Laura Robson produced a powerful, battling display at Flushing Meadows to beat three-time US Open champion Kim Clijsters in straight sets 7-6, 7-6. The last time the Belgian had lost in the tournament her conqueror was only nine years old. Robson paid tribute to her opponent after the match: "She's been such a great player for so many years and a role model for all the younger girls coming up and it was so nice coming on tour with people like Kim to look up to. "

Robson went into the match in a confident mood after winning her first round match against American Samantha Crawford in straight sets, 6-3 7-6. Clijsters had also breezed into the second round in her final Grand Slam appearance, beating Victoria Duval 6-3, 6-1. 

In the opening set Robson started nervously and had to save a break point in her first service game before being broken in her second. She came back well though after going 4-1 behind and broke back in the 9th game to stop the Belgian from serving out the set. Robson faltered as she served to take the set into a tie-breaker and put a back-hand wide to give her opponent two set points. However the British youngster produced two big first serves to save both of them. She was forced to survive another one when she double-faulted on the 16th point of the game, only to serve an ace with her next strike. Robson finally sealed the ten minute 12th game to take the opening set into a breaker. 

Robson got an early mini-break but fired a back-hand wide in a point she should have won as the players swapped courts at 3-3. The young Briton netted to leave Clijsters serving at 4-3 as the momentum looked to have changed. The crowd were gradually learning not to rule out Robson as she bounced back to take two consecutive points to give herself a mini-break which she duly consolidated to give herself two set points at 6-4. She closed out the set in style to shock the tournament's sentimental favourite Clijsters and take the lead. 

Robson started the second set well with a comfortable hold and then threatened the Clijsters serve. It then started to appear as though the 18-year-old was feeling the pressure when she served up consecutive double faults to hand the former world number one the break on a plate. But the Olympic mixed doubles silver medallist fought back immediately as she forced Clijsters to net and give her a break point which resulted in the Belgian returning the favour with a double fault to bring the set back on serve. 

The left-handed Brit continued to frustrate Clijsters as she saved two more break points in the 5th game to take a 3-2 lead on serve. The world number 25 was once again forced to replicate Robson as she had to save two break points to level the set. However she continued to look under serious pressure while Robson kept on going for broke, producing plenty of winners. She sealed two easy holds to take a 5-4 lead and make Clijsters serve to stay in the match. She duly held after two deuces before forcing a break point on the Robson serve after an epic rally. Robson missed three great chances to hit winners, including two over-heads, the second of which found the bottom of the net. In the face of adversity the youngster saved the break point before sealing the game with an ace down the middle to grab a 6-5 advantage. 

Robson gave herself two match points courtesy of a magical cross-court back-hand after chasing down a drop-shot. Two big shots from Clijsters saved both as they disappeared in a whisker. Roared on by the crowd she served out as the match went into a second tie-breaker. A stunning back-hand up the line gave the four-time Grand Slam champion an early mini-break, only to net on the second point as the match persisted to swing this way and that. A magnificent cross-court winner ended a point of brutal Robson hitting as the score at the change-over stood at three a-piece.

An unbelievable fore-hand down the line gave Robson her first match point on serve and she took it after Clijsters netted. The Belgian has been a great competitor over the years, but this was a day about the new generation in the form of Great Britain's Laura Robson, as she progressed to the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time. 

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