BRITISH No3 Laura Robson last night secured the finest victory of her promising career to defeat Kim Clijsters 7-6 (7-4,) 7-6 (7-5) at the US Open to advance to a third round tie with China’s Li Na.
It took 126 minutes for Clijsters to fall but in achieving such an astonishing victory, Robson highlighted a potential that suggests she possesses the necessary mental strength required to maximise her natural technical ability and continue to improve her promising game.
“It was such a good atmosphere,” said Robson after eliminating the three-time champion. “I didn’t have any expectations going into the match because she’s such a good player and so experienced.
“I’ve had so many tough matches against top players that I knew the level was there, I just had to keep it for the whole 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.”
That Robson is the world No89 goes only some way to underlining the impressive nature of her victory; in world No25 Clijsters she faced not only one of the most decorated players of the modern era and one that not lost in this grand slam since 2003, but an incredibly determined individual who played with the knowledge that this Major was her last.
At 5-3 up in the opening set, Belgium’s Clijsters, who had already decided to retire at the tournament’s end, appeared to possess a significant advantage but it was from here that Robson improved to play with a freedom she had previously not shown.
The Londoner became more ambitious with her shot selection to break Clijsters’ serve before producing an array of forehand and backhand winners from every inch of the court to take the first set on a tie break.
In a similar position in the second, Robson then showed both drive and composure to earn three match points and win with a backhand that Clijsters sent long.