Laura Robson has continued her rise up the world rankings even though she failed in her attempt to become the first Briton to win a tournament on the Women's Tennis Association tour for 24 years on Saturday. Having become the British No 1 for the first time when she rose to a career-high No 74 seven days ago, Robson is expected to climb by up to 10 more places following her efforts at the Guangzhou International Open in China when the rankings list is updated today.
Robson was world No 126 – and the British No 4 – going into the French Open earlier this summer but has since made rapid progress. She reached her first WTA semi-final in Palermo, won the mixed doubles silver medal alongside Andy Murray at the Olympics and beat two Grand Slam champions, Kim Clijsters and Li Na, on her way to the fourth round of the US Open.
In Guangzhou, Robson became the first British woman to reach a WTA final for 22 years before losing 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 to Chinese Taipei's Su-Wei Hsieh, the world No 53. Nevertheless, her four victories earlier in the week, including three against top-50 opponents, will secure another rise in the rankings.
The rivalry with Heather Watson, whom Robson replaced as the British No 1, is helping to drive on both women. Watson came through the qualifying competition for this week's tournament in Tokyo at the weekend and is looking to boost her own ranking, though she was facing a tough first-round match today against Germany's Sabine Lisicki.
Robson, who at 18 is the youngest player in the world's top 100, had also been due to play in the qualifying competition in Tokyo but had to withdraw because of her progress in Guangzhou. She is instead taking the chance to practise in preparation for the qualifying tournament at the end of this week for the forthcoming China Open in Beijing.
Having aimed to become the first British winner of a WTA title since Sara Gomer in 1988, Robson eventually ran out of steam in a gruelling final in Guangzhou played in high heat and humidity. Robson saved five match points in the second set and won seven games in a row to take command of the third, only for Hsieh, the world No 53, to finish the stronger.
"After I won the second set and led 3-0 in the third, she started playing well again and made the rallies longer, while I totally ran out of energy," Robson admitted. "I kept fighting but just wasn't able to hit my shots as well as I had earlier in the match. But the more matches you play the more experience you get, and to play in a really tough final like this one in Guangzhou is a big experience for me."
Caroline Wozniacki won her first WTA title for 13 months when she beat Kaia Kanepi 6-1, 6-0 in the final of the Korea Open yesterday. Wozniacki, who began the year as world No 1 but has slipped to No 11 in the rankings, needed just over an hour to beat Kanepi, who had beaten her in the third round of the French Open.
Wozniacki said: "Hopefully, my results this week will help me move forward and get back to playing my best."