Maria Sharapova recovers to beat Laura Robson

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The Independent Online

British teenager Laura Robson bowed out of Wimbledon but only after giving former champion and this year's title favourite Maria Sharapova a scare on Court One.

Robson, 17, made the perfect start and raced into a 4-1 lead but Sharapova broke back to draw level before taking the set into a tie-break.



Sharapova, who was Robson's age when she won the title here in 2004, then had to come from a mini-break down to claim the opening set.



The Russian stepped up a gear in the second set and opened a 5-1 lead but Robson showed real heart to keep battling and broke Sharapova's serve to stay in the match.



Eventually, Sharapova, the three-time grand slam champion, prevailed 7-6 (7/4) 6-3 and she will now face Klara Zakopalova.



Robson, the world number 254, will return to the Challenger circuit but her performance against Sharapova pointed to a bright future on the senior tour.



This was the third time Robson had featured in the main draw at Wimbledon as a wild card since she won the junior title as a 14-year-old in 2008.



After plucky first-round defeats to Daniela Hantuchova in 2009 and Jelena Jankovic in 2010, she won her first grand slam match on Wednesday, beating Angelique Kerber in three sets.



Robson's temperament was tested to the full in the first game of the match as Sharapova earned five break points.



But after a nervy start Robson remained composed and saved them all, eventually holding serve in a nine-minute opening game.



Robson's forehand was proving to be a real weapon - she hit six winners with it in the first two games - and she raced to 15-40 on Sharapova's serve.



The Russian took it back to deuce but her serve was malfunctioning and consecutive double faults gave Robson the early break and a dream start.



Robson consolidated the break confidently and was asking questions of Sharapova, particularly with that fierce forehand, as she opened a 4-1 lead.



But the Russian began to dish it out as well. Sharapova broke back with a crunching backhand out wide that Robson could only return into the net and the set was soon all square at 4-4.



Robson ended a run of three lost games on the back of some powerful serving and she was mixing her game up well, combining blistering forehand winners with a deft drop shot.



Sharapova took the set into a tie-break and then had to come from a mini-break down at 4-2 to win it.



The Russian fifth seed then began to assert her authority at the start of the second set, breaking Robson at the first opportunity to move 2-0 up.



Robson, typically, refused to go down without a fight and she broke straight back, clinching the game with a delicate sliced back-hand drop shot.



But that only prompted Sharapova to step up another gear and she broke Robson to love with some ferocious groundstrokes and then opened a 4-1 lead with three aces.



Suddenly the 248 ranking places that separated the two players began to show as Sharapova moved a second break up and served for the match.



But Robson would not concede defeat without a fight.



She broke back as Sharapova served for the match and then worked another break point at 5-3 but Sharapova snuffed out hope of a dramatic comeback.

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