Aegon Classic 2016: Laura Robson ends run of five straight defeats to keep Edgbaston hopes alive

Laura Robson beat Varvara Lepchenko 6-4, 6-1 to take a step closer to reaching the main draw at Edgbaston

Paul Newman
Saturday 11 June 2016 16:40
Laura Robson's victory over Varvara Lepchenko ended a run of five straight defeats
Laura Robson's victory over Varvara Lepchenko ended a run of five straight defeats

Laura Robson’s comeback after wrist surgery has been every bit as difficult as she might have imagined but the former Wimbledon junior champion enjoyed her best victory for nearly three years when she beat Varvara Lepchenko in the first round of qualifying for next week’s Aegon Classic at Edgbaston. Robson’s 6-4, 6-1 win over the world No 65 earned a second-round meeting with the world No 102, Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic, who beat Donna Vekic 6-3, 6-0.

Lepchenko, a 30-year-old American, is the highest ranked player Robson has beaten since she knocked out the Czech Republic’s Klara Koukalova, then the world No 32, in the China Open in Beijing nearly three years ago. The win ended a run of five successive defeats for Robson, who had won only four matches in her previous 12 tournaments this year.

Robson, now the world No 308, needed just 71 minutes to complete her victory, dropping her serve only once. The Briton, who recently parted company with her coach Mauricio Hadad, made regular inroads into Lepchenko’s service games.

“I didn’t have a lot of confidence going into the match because I haven’t won a lot recently but I know how well I’ve been playing on the practice court and it was just a matter of translating that into a match,” Robson said afterwards. “I stuck to it pretty well. I’m looking not just to win one match obviously so tomorrow is a big one as well and I’ll try to get another win.”

Four Britons are in the main draw already. Johanna Konta will play her fellow Briton Tara Moore, Heather Watson will face Italy’s Camila Giorgi and Naomi Broady has been drawn against Australia’s Daria Gavrilova.

This year’s field at Edgbaston is the strongest in the tournament’s history. The line-up includes Petra Kvitova, twice a Wimbledon champion, Angelique Kerber, the Australian Open champion, and Agnieszka Radwanksa and Simona Halep, the world No 3 and No 5 respectively.

Moore will head to Edgbaston after a fine week at the Aegon Open in Nottingham finally ended in defeat at the quarter-final stage. Moore was beaten 6-2, 6-4 after an hour and 23 minutes by China’s Saisai Zheng, who had also knocked out Konta.

The match was closer than the scoreline might suggest. Zheng had five break points in the match and converted three of them, while Moore had four but did not take any of them.

In the other quarter-finals, which were held over from Friday because of bad weather, Karolina Pliskova beat Ashleigh Barty 7-6, 7-6, Monica Puig beat Tamira Paszek 6-4, 6-3 and Alison Riske beat Anett Kontaveit 6-3, 6-3.

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