LAURA'S HISTORY LESSON; Robson Wins Fight of Her Life to Go Through
Byline: MIKE DICKSON Tennis Correspondent reports from Melbourne
LAURA Robson caused another sensational Grand Slam upset to reach the third round of the Australian Open -- even if she described it herself as 'ugly'.
The Wimbledon-based teenager followed up her victories over major winners Kim Clijsters and Li Na at the US Open by knocking out 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 2-6, 6-3, 11-9 in a late-night, three-hour slugfest.
Robson, 18, displayed amazing resolve in refusing to yield to her Czech opponent in a dramatic deciding-set triumph that owed more to determination than pretty strokeplay.
'I feel I was playing better in New York -- today was pretty ugly -- but in terms of how tough it was to close it out in the end, it's right up there with the best wins,' said the British No2, who now plays American Sloane Stephens.
'I never gave up, even when she went up twice by a break in the third. In the end I thought I've got nothing to lose, I'm just going to relax on my serve and go for it.
'I started the whole match with two double faults, and you know it's going to be ugly when that happens.
'I knew I had to dig in and this was probably my most satisfying win in terms of how up and down it was. I've always had fighting spirit. When I play my brother at Monopoly, all hell breaks loose.'
Crowd favourite Robson, who was born in Melbourne before her parents moved to England, is trying to equal or better her last-16 showing in New York.
She now faces a tough challenge from young Stephens, the world No 25, who beat her only last week in Tasmania.
As the clock edged towards half-past midnight and the crowd inside the Rod Laver Arena weighed the prospect of work later in the day, quite a few had left before this battle of two lefthanders had got going.
Those who stayed were rewarded with a thrilling denouement that saw Robson close it out at the second time of asking.
It is not just for Robson's youth that she gained huge support under the floodlights that also drew a massive contingent of made-in-Australia giant bugs in the sultry heat that never dipped below 30 and made this a major test of endurance.
Nor was it just the sense of expectation surrounding someone who showed such an appetite for taking down big names at September's US Open when she ended the career of Clijsters and also dismissed 2011 French Open winner Na.
Robson was born here and how the land of Laver, Hoad, Court and Goolagong would like to claim her, as their significant talent is even thinner on the ground than it is in the UK. But she left aged one and grew up around London after a stint in Singapore, following the job that her father Andrew -- sitting courtside -- had with an oil company.
There is still much to iron out in her game. Her movement is a work in progress, but improvements continued during her off-season in Florida with Croatian coach Zeljko Krajan. …