Laura Robson is the first British woman to be seeded at a Grand Slam tournament for 26 years, but the 19-year-old is clearly not troubled by the weight of history. The No 30 seed moved into the third round of the US Open here with her second convincing victory of the week, beating France’s Caroline Garcia 6-4, 7-6.
Cutting out the double faults that had littered her first-round victory over Lourdes Dominguez Lino, Robson served much more consistently and struck the ball with her customary power from the baseline. Garcia, another 19-year-old of great promise, did not do much wrong, but was outplayed on most of the big points.
In the third round Robson will face China’s Li Na, the 2011 French Open winner, who will be seeking revenge for her defeat at the hands of the same opponent at the same stage here last year. The fact that Robson has a large number of ranking points to defend this time around does not appear to have been a burden on the Briton’s shoulders.
When Garcia pushed Maria Sharapova hard at the French Open two years ago, Andy Murray hailed her as a future world No 1. Garcia, who was runner-up in the junior tournament here that year, was the world No 188 at the time. Although she has since climbed 113 places in the rankings, her progress has not all been plain sailing. She has failed to go beyond the second round anywhere this year and has fallen at the qualifying stage of eight tournaments.
The match got on court only after a delay of more than four and a half hours because of rain. The players had warmed up and were about to start just before 1pm when rain started to fall. It was not until 5.38pm that the match started.
For the first half an hour neither player looked in any danger of dropping serve. Garcia, striking the ball with impressive power, won her first three service games to love. It was not until the Frenchwoman served at 4-5 that any game went to deuce. Robson, clearly sensing this was an opportunity not to be missed, forced Garcia into two successive backhand errors to take the first set after 32 minutes.
Robson’s preparations for this tournament were hampered by an injury to her right wrist which she suffered in her only other post-Wimbledon tournament in Toronto. At the end of the first set the Briton sent for the trainer to have the strapping on the wrist redone, but she did not appear to be in any discomfort and said afterwards that it had not been a problem.
The second set followed a similar pattern to the first, with neither player in much trouble on their serve. Garcia, who was making her debut in the main draw here, went within two points of defeat when she served at 4-5 and 30-30, but it was the Frenchwoman who broke in the following game as Robson hit her first double fault of the match.
Garcia had two set points when she served at 6-5, but Robson put her opponent under intense pressure with some bold attacking strokes to force a tie-break. Although Garcia won the first two points, Robson won the next six, only for her opponent to rally again. Robson served a double fault on her first match point and was outrallied on the next two before completing victory after an hour and 35 minutes with a service winner.