Robson's famous win ensures British success story

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Laura Robson will go to the champions' ball tonight after her extraordinary victory in the girls' singles final here yesterday. The slipper just about fitted perfectly as she defeated her more experienced opponent, Noppawan Lertcheewakarn of Thailand 6-3 3-6 6-1.

This time next year Miss Robson says she would like to play in the seniors. And this time in 2012? Who knows? But her progress this season, Andy Murray or no Andy Murray, has been the success story of British tennis. At the beginning of the year she was ranked 221st in the world juniors and her progress has been so dramatic that she is now in the top five. She only got into this tournament as a wild card.

Twelve months ago the girls' final was held on court two but with the Union Flag on show yesterday, a show court it had to be. Miss Robson wears a yellow wristband. "It's a charity that encourages kids in Third World countries to play sports," she said. Encourages kids? At this stage it is important to point out that Miss Robson is 14 years of age.

After her famous victory that had the crowd on its feet, she said: "It was an overwhelming experience. I thought I was going to be sick because of so many people watching."

Before the match she received a letter from the Russian player Marat Safin. "I memorised it," she said. "He wrote 'dear Laura, sorry I can't come to the ball but good luck'."

In British tennis, everybody, of course, gets ahead of themselves so she was asked about the prospect of facing Venus Williams next year. "I'll take her down," she replied.

Miss Robson looks the part. Beneath a sky that could have been taken from the opening of The Simpsons – like Lisa, Laura plays the saxophone – she seems to be mentally and physically in tune and got off to a flier, opening up a 3-0 lead. Some of her forehand winners opened the eyes of the packed court and it was clear she had the more potent serve. Her first was often timed at 100mph and some of her second serves were faster than Murray's.

Miss Lertcheewakarn, the 16-year-old No 3 seed, levelled at 3-3, but the leftie Robson regrouped to take the set 6-3 after 29 minutes. Breaks of serve, in a blustery wind, ensued on a regular basis and although Miss Robson came within a point of establishing a 4-2 lead in the second set she lost that game after serving a couple of double faults and with it her momentum and the set. Remarkably, it was the first set she had dropped in the tournament during which she had disposed of the American No 1 seed Melanie Oudin

It is clear that Miss Robson is not a fan of the game's grunters. It wouldn't endear her to the Williams sisters. As it happens, her Thai opponent yesterday is prone to the grunt. "I don't think I'll ever do it," she said, "because I think it is off-putting and people do it on purpose. "

Having lost her rhythm and range in the second set, Miss Robson showed she is a battler by taking control of the decider in a most un-British manner.

Miss Robson, the first Brit to reach this final since Annabel Croft in 1984, was born in Melbourne. Her father worked for Shell and she spent 18 months in Singapore before arriving in England at the age of six. He has produced a high-octane player. Let's get one thing straight. Her parents may be Australian but Laura, who lives five minutes from Wimbledon, is as British as a strawberry. And yesterday there was added cream.