They are firm friends but British tennis will be hoping they also become big rivals. Laura Robson and Heather Watson, who have both won junior Grand Slam titles, met on the court for the first time yesterday in what could become a long-running battle for supremacy between the British teenagers. Robson, the 2008 Wimbledon junior champion, beat Watson, the 2009 US Open junior champion, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals of the Aegon GB Pro-Series tournament in Barnstaple, Devon.
Watson, who as world No 87 is the higher ranked of the two Britons, made a slow start and appeared to be heading for a straight-sets defeat as Robson, the world No 135, took a 2-0 lead in the second set. However, the 19-year-old from Guernsey fought back to level the match before the 17-year-old Robson took command of the decider, breaking serve to lead 4-2.
"Heather and I are really good friends but I know how much winning that match meant to both of us," Robson (left) said afterwards. "I started really well today and that helped me, but I always knew Heather would come back and that she would get a lot of balls back."
Watson said: "There was a lot of hype around our match and both Laura and I were very motivated to win today. We've never played before so that was another challenge. I thought I started really badly. I was so slow and was 6-1, 2-0 down."
Both players, who will pair up for the doubles, have made excellent progress this year, with Watson climbing the rankings from No 176 and Robson the youngest player in the top 200.