Robson falls at the final hurdle

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The Independent Online

By the time Andy Murray got on the court to face Roger Federer here last night his mixed doubles partner was on a flight back to London. Laura Robson, who asked her mother to record the men's final, returned home with a month's worth of memories but without the Australian Open girls' title.

Just as she did a year ago, Robson reached the junior final in Melbourne but then ran into an eastern European opponent who was older, stronger and more experienced. For Russia's Ksenia Pervak read the Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova, who beat Robson 6-1, 7-6.

Pliskova, who is 22 months older than the 2008 Wimbledon junior champion and plays regularly on the senior tour, had too much power for Robson, who celebrated her 16th birthday last month. Robson, nevertheless, fought back well in the second set and led 4-1 in the tie-break before Pliskova recovered her poise.

"I was a bit disappointed with the way I played, in the first set anyway," Robson said. "But I've had a really good month in Australia, so I can go home pretty happy."

Robson, who was born in Melbourne, has been big news here ever since she partnered Murray in the Hopman Cup mixed team event in the build-up to the Australian Open. She followed up her achievements in Perth – which included a singles victory over Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, the world No 26 – by winning one match in qualifying for the senior singles here, reaching the quarter-finals of the senior doubles with her Australian partner Sally Peers, and making the junior singles final for the second year in succession.

Rules designed to prevent teenage "burn-out" will restrict Robson to 12 senior events this year, but she already looks more than capable of mixing it with her elders. She has matured both physically and mentally since she played in her last Grand Slam event in New York only five months ago.