Odd couple Robson and Raymond could be crowned queens of Miami


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The Independent Online

Laura Robson and Lisa Raymond are unlikely doubles partners, but the 19-year-old Briton and the 39-year-old American have reached Sunday’s final in Miami in their first tournament together.

They will meet the winners of Friday’s second semi-final, in which Nadia Petrova and Katarina Srebotnik were taking on Svetlana Kuznetsova and Flavia Pennetta, after their own remarkable victory earlier in the day.

Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci are the world’s No 1 doubles pair, having won three of the last four Grand Slam titles, but the Italians were outplayed as Robson and Raymond, who needed a wild card to play in the tournament, won 6-1, 6-2 in just 57 minutes.

“Straight from the start we were firing,” Robson told BBC Radio 5 Live. “I was very aggressive from the baseline and Lisa was picking them off at the net. She helps me refocus because I start singing along to the music and she says: ‘Come on, focus.’”

Raymond has been playing with Sam Stosur this season, but the Australian was injured and unable to play in Miami. Raymond’s agent recommended Robson as a replacement and the pair clicked immediately.

Robson is the world No 278 in doubles, but that is a reflection of her lack of matches rather than her talent. She arrived in Miami having played only four women’s doubles matches on the tour – and lost them all – since last year’s pre-Wimbledon tournament at Eastbourne. However, Robson had proved her doubles talent in winning a silver medal alongside Andy Murray in last summer’s Olympic tournament.

Raymond, in contrast, has a superb record in doubles, having won 79 titles, the first of them before Robson was even born. A former world doubles No 1, the American reached a career-high singles ranking of No 15 in 1997 but has concentrated on doubles in recent years.

“I always thought we would suit well together,” Raymond said of her partnership with Robson, who will be playing in her first doubles final at one of the biggest tournaments on the women’s tour. “She has huge groundstrokes and allows me to move well at the net. It’s clicking. It’s been an instant fit.”

Raymond added: “I try not to think about our ages, but she could be my daughter. She has so much energy and excitement and so much ahead of her. It’s fun practising with her, fun playing with her. I’ve been saying all week that I liken her to a young Lindsay Davenport. The way the ball comes off her racket, she’s such a clean striker of the ball, and she has a phenomenal future ahead of her. The fact that she is a leftie as well. Keep an eye out for  this girl.”

Saturday’s singles final brings together Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, the world’s top two players. Sharapova, unbeaten in 11 matches, has lost in all four of her previous finals in Miami, where Williams has been champion five times. Sharapova has lost her last 10 matches against Williams, who has won the last 13 sets they have played.

The men’s final will be played on Sunday. David Ferrer beat Tommy Haas 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 in the first of the semi-finals and now faces the winner of last night’s later match between Andy Murray and Richard Gasquet.