LONDON (Reuters) - Home favorite Laura Robson was the toast of Wimbledon again on Friday as the 19-year-old reached the third round for the first time, five years after being dubbed the “next big thing” in British women’s tennis.
By this stage of the tournament the only British female presence is usually the ball girls but Robson, who won the junior Wimbledon title as a 14-year-old, was given the unexpected honor of playing on Center Court after her match was postponed by rain on Thursday.
She duly rose to the occasion and surfed a wave of home support to beat Colombian qualifier Mariana Duque-Marino 6-4 6-1.
“It’s a big win for me,” said Robson. “Any match on Center Court is a big one and it was a great atmosphere out there and having the roof closed just made it louder.”
Robson had never gone beyond the second round at Wimbledon, though she did reach the fourth at last year’s U.S. Open - the first British woman to last that long in a grand slam event for 14 years.
Being the best British woman player at Wimbledon is admittedly a relatively limited sub-group but, having beaten 10th seed Maria Kirilenko on Tuesday, Robson started as a clear favorite in front of her home fans.
With both women occasionally employing a floaty sliced backhand, something of a rarity at the top level these days, the rallies had some real variety even if there were too many basic errors to worry any of the big names in the draw.
Both players struggled to find any consistency early on but Robson eventually settled to take a first set that featured five breaks of serve.
Once Roson had pocketed that she grew in confidence and started delivering some real power with her groundstrokes to race through the second set virtually untroubled and now has a winnable third-round meeting with New Zealander Marina Erakovic.
“I didn’t think I played my best, my timing was a bit off, but I just had to accept that and try to control it,” she said.
“I was feeling nervous but then thought she was probably more nervous than I was.
“I’m really excited. I’m going to play doubles this afternoon, if it stops raining, and get ready for tomorrow.”
Editing by Ken Ferris