Bold Laura Robson sends Kim Clijsters heading towards retirement

 

Flushing Meadows

Who shot Bambi? Tennis fans around the world – and New Yorkers and Belgians in particular – might suggest it was Laura Robson after the 18-year-old Briton recorded a stunning victory over Kim Clijsters in the second round of the US Open here last night.

Clijsters, who is retiring after this tournament, has won the title here three times and had not lost on these courts since 2003, but the 29-year-old Belgian was outgunned as Robson played the match of her life to win 7-6, 7-6.

If it was a sorry end to the career of a player whose sunny disposition has made her one of the most popular figures in women's tennis, it was also a day to celebrate the blossoming of a talent who has looked destined for a major career ever since she won junior Wimbledon four years ago. Robson, the youngest player in the world's top 100, has repeatedly shown her ability to rise to the big occasion and demonstrated it again with a display full of character.

The world No 89, who is the second Australian-born Briton to enjoy success here following Johanna Konta's first-round win 24 hours earlier, trailed 5-2 in the first set, in which she saved three set points before twice coming from behind to win the tie-break 7-4. In the second set she repeatedly put Clijsters under pressure and played another excellent tie-break to secure victory after two hours and six minutes and earn a third-round meeting with Li Na.

Clijsters, who has still to play in the doubles and mixed doubles here, gave Robson a warm embrace at the end and said in an on-court interview: "Laura played extremely well today. I gave it all, but I just wasn't good enough at the end of the match."

When Robson was asked how she had pulled off the win, the Briton said: "I had to work my butt off." She added: "I was just trying to play as well as I could because I knew that if I didn't Kim would completely dominate."

When asked what she felt about her opponent, Robson said: "Thanks to Kim for being such a great role model to me for so many years. It's been an absolute pleasure to finally play against you."

Tournament organisers here like to schedule Americans in Arthur Ashe Stadium whenever possible, but this was a day when Belgians and Britons dominated on the main show court. All three day matches featured Belgians (Kirsten Flipkens, Xavier Malisse and Clijsters), while Andy Murray was due to finish the night session against Ivan Dodig.

The cavernous 23,000-capacity arena was less than a quarter full. There were periods when the match was played in near silence, although there were plenty of cries of "Come on Laura!" from the British contingent in the crowd and excitement grew as a major shock became an increasing possibility.

Clijsters had controlled the opening exchanges, but when she served for the first set at 5-3 Robson broke with some splendidly bold returns. It set a pattern, with Clijsters hurried into her shots by the pace of Robson' ground strokes. The Briton's big left-handed serve is another of her weapons and at 5-6 she saved three set points with unreturned serves. More bold hitting saw Robson win the last four points of the tie-break to take the second set after 57 minutes.

After an early exchange of breaks in the second set, each of them completed by double faults, both players consistently threatened each other's serve without making the final breakthrough.

Robson went within two points of victory when Clijsters served at 4-5 and had two match points at 5-6, but Clijsters held her nerve. At 5-5 in the second tie-break, however, Robson struck a wonderful forehand winner down the line and this time was not to be denied as she finished the job with another big serve. It was a fine way to complete a magnificent victory.

Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
Life & Style
life
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
VIDEO
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
musicJethro Tull frontman leads ‘prog rock’ revival
Arts & Entertainment
Back in the suit: There are only so many variations you can spin on the lives or adventures of Peter Parker
filmReview: Almost every sequence and set-up in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 seems familiar from some earlier superhero film
Arts & Entertainment
Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones
tv
Life & Style
Father and son: Michael Williams with son Edmund
lifeAs his son’s bar mitzvah approaches, CofE-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys he’s experienced in learning about his family’s other faith
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
comedy... writes Jenny Collier, the comedian whose recent show was cancelled because there were 'too many women' on the bill
News
House proud: keeping up with the Joneses now extends to children's playhouses
newsLuxury playhouses now on the market for as much as £800
News
news
Life & Style
Stir it up: the writer gets a lichen masterclass from executive chef Vivek Singh of the Cinnamon restaurants
food + drinkLichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines
Extras
indybest
Arts & Entertainment
Ken Loach (left) and Mike Leigh who will be going head to head for one of cinema's most coveted prizes at this year's Cannes Film Festival
filmKen Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
News
The academic, Annamaria Testa, has set out on her website a list of 300 English words that she says Italians ought to stop using
newsAcademic speaks out against 'Italianglo' - the use of English words in Italian language
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit