Laura Robson's remarkable run at the US Open, which ended with her defeat to Sam Stosur in the fourth round here on Sunday, has provided the 18-year-old Briton with a host of new experiences. Among them was the arrival of a camera crew at her hotel a few hours before her final match.
"I got really excited because I thought they were waiting for someone who was famous," Robson said. "I didn't think they were for me until they started following me to the car. I was a little bit freaked out actually. I didn't know what to do."
It was an experience she may have to get used to. Already the youngest player in the world's top 100, Robson confirmed her status as the most exciting prospect in the women's game. Although she was unable to claim the scalp of a third successive Grand Slam champion following her victories over Kim Clijsters and Li Na, Robson pushed Stosur hard before the 28-year-old Australian continued the defence of her title with a 6-4, 6-4 win.
Robson has been big news here. The American public lapped up her achievements at the Olympics, where she won a silver medal in the mixed doubles alongside Andy Murray, while her victories over Clijsters and Li underlined her box-office potential. Her prize-money of $120,000 (£76,000) – the biggest cheque of her career – will be small change compared with what she could earn in the years ahead through sponsorship and endorsements.
"I've had loads of messages of support," she said. "My phone has been running out of battery because there's been so many messages."
While Robson's natural ball-striking has never been in doubt, it has only been this summer, after she put her growing pains and injuries behind her, that she has been able to work hard on her movement, which was always regarded as her weakness. Jez Green, one of Murray's trainers, has been working with her and the improvement in her speed and agility around the court has been striking.
Zeljko Krajan, her new coach, has helped put her improved athleticism to good effect. Without wanting to discourage the bold shot-making, Krajan has encouraged the 2008 Wimbledon junior champion to prolong the rallies by making her opponents hit the extra ball.
Robson admitted that she had gone for too many big shots against Stosur. The Briton made 41 unforced errors compared with the Australian's 24.
"I tried to go for it a bit too early in the rally where I could have just kept hitting it to her backhand and waited for a better opportunity," she said. "But it was difficult because she was going around her forehand a lot."
Robson, who said she would drown her sorrows by going on a shopping expedition, is inspired rather than overawed by the big occasion. However, she also recognises that she has to back up results like these with good performances on the sport's lesser stages. "I would love to continue playing in stadiums like that with a crowd like that, but I have to get my ranking up a bit more and keep working hard to get there," she said.
The world No 89, who will climb at least 10 places in next week's updated list, will now head for the Far East. She has a busy schedule, with tournaments in Guangzhou (China), Tokyo, Beijing and Osaka. "I think the courts in Asia will suit me because they're generally quite fast," she said.
Asked what positives she would take from her experiences here, Robson said: "I can definitely take the fact that I'm up there with the top girls in terms of level. I had two really, really great wins. Going into my next tournaments, I can take a lot of confidence into them."