Laura Robson kept Great Britain’s hopes of returning to the Fed Cup World Group alive with an emphatic victory over Florencia Molinero in Buenos Aires yesterday, writes Mark Staniforth.
The world No.38 brushed aside her inexperienced opponent 6-1, 6-1 to pull Judy Murray’s Great Britain level at 1-1 against Argentina after Johanna Konta lost the opening rubber to Paula Ormaechea.
Robson will be strongly fancied to defeat Ormaechea in the reverse singles today, with Konta due to face Molinero and a potentially decisive doubles rubber also to come.
Robson had plenty of pressure on her shoulders heading into the tie at Parque Roca, with Great Britain banking on her to lead them back into World Group II after an absence of 20 years.
But the 19-year-old, pictured, showed few signs of nerves as she raced through the first set and went 5-0 ahead in the second.
Despite being broken when she served for the match, she recovered to close it out on Molinero’s serve in the next game and kept plenty in reserve.
Earlier world No.146 Konta had found the going tough against Ormachea and fell to a 6-3, 6-2 defeat.
Konta, selected in the absence of Heather Watson due to illness, never recovered from a bad start as she fell 4-0 behind to a player ranked 21 places higher at 143 in the world.
Konta made a stronger start to the second set but was broken in the fourth game and when she was broken for a second time in her next service game, she was consigned to defeat.
After the two reverse singles, Robson will team up with veteran Anne Keothavong for the doubles, should they be required, against Maria Irigoyen and Mailen Auroux.
n Eight-time defending champion Rafael Nadal recorded his 46th consecutive win at the Monte Carlo Masters by beating Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 7-6 (3) yesterday to set up a repeat of last year’s final against top-ranked Novak Djokovic.
The Spaniard has now reached five straight finals since returning from a seven-month lay-off following a left knee injury. He will go for his fourth title of the season against Djokovic, who easily beat the unseeded Fabio Fognini of Italy 6-2, 6-1. The Serb showed no signs his right ankle is still bothering him, two weeks after twisting it on Davis Cup duty against the United States.
Djokovic and Nadal have not played against each other since last year’s French Open final, which Nadal won. He has won their last three encounters, after Djokovic took the previous seven – all of which were tournament finals. Nadal leads their head-to-head contests 19-14.
The sixth-seeded Tsonga saved four match points as he rallied back from 5-1 down to force a second-set tiebreaker, which was evenly poised at 3-3 before Tsonga started making unforced errors again by hurrying his shots.
Nadal clinched the victory with a forehand winner and took a step closer to a ninth straight Monte Carlo title.