That's up there with my best wins, says Robson after beating Kvitova
LAURA Robson displayed nerves of steel to progress to the third round of the Australian Open yesterday after outlasting eighth seed Petra Kvitova in an "ugly" three-hour marathon.
The 18-year-old overcame a woeful first set to grow into the match. And after failing to serve it out at 6-5 in the decider, she got the job done when the chance next arose to go through 2-6, 6-3, 11-9 in three hours.
It was not pretty, but Robson, who reached the fourth round in the US Open last year with stunning wins over Kim Clijsters and Li Na, again displayed a bloody-mindedness which allied to her natural talent bodes well for the future.
She next plays another rising star, American Sloane Stephens, who beat her in Hobart last week.
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Although happy with a victory she described as "her toughest", the British number two admitted it had been a patchy encounter.
"I thought it was pretty ugly, but in terms of how tough it was to close it out at the end, it was right up there with my best wins," she said.
"I never gave up, even when she went up a break twice in the third.
"I thought I had to get as many returns in as I can and, in the end, I thought I have nothing to lose, so I relaxed on my serve and decided to go for it."
Kvitova, the 2011 Wimbledon champion has been struggling for confidence in recent months – she has not won consecutive matches since the US Open – and suffered early-round defeats at the warm-up events in Brisbane and Sydney.
And she again appeared mentally fragile, especially in the deciding set, as Robson held her nerve rather than the more experienced Czech. The first two sets were instantly forgettable with both players making a catalogue of errors as the momentum swung one way and then the other.
Kvitova had the better of the opener with Robson appearing to be hamstrung by nerves in her first night session appearance on a show court at a major.
"In the first set it was just too up and down," said Robson.
"You can't win a set when you are hitting five unforced errors to every winner.
"At the start of the second I knew I had to play with more consistency."
And she did exactly that to hit back, aided admittedly by Kvitova's inability to keep the ball in court.
Most of the drama was reserved, though, for the deciding set, after Kvitova had surged into a 3-0 lead.
Robson held and then got the break back as, from nowhere, Kvitova threw in three double faults in an awful game to lose the advantage.
In keeping with the match, Robson promptly handed it back, more serving woe compounded by a netted backhand on break point.
And so it continued, Robson breaking again to change ends at 3-4 down. There was eventually a hold as the teenager made it 4-4.
The standard was improving as the match reached its crucial stages.
Robson broke to lead 10-9. And this time Kvitova had no reply as Robson served it out to go through with the match finishing well after midnight.
"I was pretty disappointed at how I tried to serve it out at 6-5, I gave her too much time on the ball, so to come out with a win is pretty pleasing," said Robson.