Madrid Masters: Laura Robson lets victory slip through her fingers

 

Drama tends to follow Laura Robson wherever she plays and the 19-year-old Briton's latest tournament ended in typical fashion in Madrid. Robson, who was attempting to win a place in the quarter-finals of a WTA Premier event for the first time, led Ana Ivanovic 5-2 in the final set but went on to lose 5-7, 6-2, 7-6.

While Robson should draw encouragement from her first event after parting company with her coach, Zeljko Krajan, she will surely look back on this as a missed opportunity. Having recovered from a poor second set, Robson was on the brink of securing a quarter-final against Germany's Angelique Kerber when she let Ivanovic back in the match.

For the most part Robson struck the ball well, playing with her usual aggression and forcing Ivanovic on to the back foot. She chased down many of Ivanovic's best shots and generally looked comfortable on a surface which does not necessarily suit her game.

As has often been the case in recent months, however, Robson's erratic serve was a crucial factor. The Briton hit 11 double faults, the last of them on match point, and put only 52 per cent of her first serves in court. Ivanovic was similarly wayward, but the world No 16 held her nerve admirably in the closing stages.

Robson, who was aiming to build on her memorable victory over Agnieszka Radwanska, the world No 4, in the previous round, set the pace for much of the first set, despite dropping her serve in the opening game. Ivanovic dug herself out of trouble when serving at 3-4, but at 5-6 she went set point down after putting a backhand wide. Robson immediately took her chance, forcing Ivanovic into another backhand error with the quality of her return.

In the second set, however, Robson made double faults in each of her service games and was broken four times. Nevertheless, it was the Briton who initially took charge of the decider before letting the match slip from her grasp. Ivanovic won four games in a row to lead 6-5, only to hit two double faults in succession as she was broken to love when serving for the match. Robson led 3-2 in the tie-break and saved a first match point with some typically aggressive play, but on the second the Briton double-faulted once again.

Krajan had been working with Robson since last summer, but the coach and player have decided to go their separate ways. Robson, who had suffered a succession of disappointing defeats in the last three months, will work with coaches from Adidas and from the Lawn Tennis Association while she looks for a permanent replacement.

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