Stephens and Robson offer glimpse of burgeoning rivalry

Sat Jan 19, 2013 5:49am EST
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By Simon Cambers

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The Australian Open offered a glimpse of what could become the rivalry of the future as American Sloane Stephens beat Britain's Laura Robson in a third-round battle on Saturday.

The two teenagers battled it out in front of a raucous crowd, with 29th seed Stephens eventually coming through 7-5 6-3 to take her place in the last 16.

The match was played on Show Court 2, only the fourth biggest court at Melbourne Park, and Stephens said she thought the pair were destined for bigger stages soon.

"We're turning into the Fed-Nadal rivalry," said Stephens, who now plays Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia or 42-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan in the fourth round.

"When I saw the court, I was like, 'wow, really, we're on this court?' I mean, it is what it is (but) I don't think we'll play that court ever again."

Robson has been tipped for the top ever since she won junior Wimbledon in 2008 while Serena Williams has said that Stephens has what it takes to become the best in the world.

"Whenever we play, we have good matches so it could be (a big rivalry)," she said. "It's obviously going to take a while (but) the matches are good. So we'll see."

The American turns 20 in March while Robson, who beat eighth seed Petra Kvitova in round two, is 19 next week.   Continued...

Laura Robson of Britain hits a return to Sloane Stephens of the U.S. during their women's singles match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 19, 2013. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj