Can Laura Robson Rise to the Top of the WTA?

Carolina FinleyContributor IIISeptember 25, 2012

Laura Robson at the US Open
Laura Robson at the US OpenElsa/Getty Images

Laura Robson first caught the attention of the tennis world at the London Olympics when she partnered Andy Murray to win a silver medal in the mixed doubles. She is now quickly rising within the ranks of women’s tennis after proving herself capable of facing top players on her own. 

Robson made a splash at the US Open by reaching the round of 16 and claiming the scalps of Kim Clijsters and Li Na along the way.

She recently appeared in her first WTF final at the Guangzhou Open. Robson succumbed to Su-Wei Hsieh, but put in a gutsy performance, battling back to win the second set by saving five match points.

This finish pushed Robson's ranking up to 57, making her the youngest player in the top 100.

At one time it was more common for players to burst on to the scene early. However, the last teenager to win a grand slam was when Maria Sharapova, won Wimbledon in 2004. Now that the game is dominated by big-hitting baseliners, it favors more mature players. Grand-slam winners are more likely to be closer to 30 than 20.

Robson met Sharapova earlier this year in the second round of the Olympic singles. Robson put up a good fight, and although Sharapova won the match, Robson gave the No. 2 ranked player a scare by taking the first set to a tiebreak.

A few weeks later at the US Open Robson made her real breakthrough.

Robson stunned Kim Clijsters at Arthur Ashe Stadium, defeating her in two sets (7-6 and 7-6) in what was the Belgian’s final match before retiring for the second time. Laura's clean striking and precision hitting put the three-time champion on the defensive and kept her there.

 

Next up was Li Na, who Robson put away in three sets, 6-4, 6-7 and 6-2. Na attributed her loss in part to her opponent’s huge first serve. Robson exited the tournament when she lost to Sam Stosur in the next round.

At the US Open, Robson had beaten two of the three grand-slam champions she faced—a great result for the 18-year-old.

She has almost reached her present goal of breaking into the top 50 and looks capable of going much further. With her aggressive game, Robson hits the ball deep and accurately, in addition to being a good volleyer. Her quickness moving around the court is also improving and she is getting to more balls and extending rallies.

With a new coach on board, Zeljko Krajan, who formerly coached Dinara Safina, Robson is working to capitalize on her talent and develop ways to strengthen her game. She has already shown that she can beat top players and is comfortable playing in the big arenas.

She very well may be spending a lot more time in them.

Her next tournament is the China Open in Beijing, which begins on September 28.

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