IT’S deja vu all over again. As Laura Robson walks on to court today to face Li Na, she knows that she has been here before.
A year ago Britain’s No 1, then ranked No 89 in the world, beat Li in the third round of the US Open on the Louis Armstrong court. Her nerves were jangling, her pulse was racing but she hung on to beat the former French Open champion in three sets and two-and-a-half hours. Afterwards, she had no idea how she had done it. All she knew was she had just pulled off the biggest win of her career.
Coming back today, Robson is a far more experienced player and, after her 6-4, 7-6 win over Caroline Garcia on Wednesday night, her confidence is a good deal stronger.
“I remember being so nervous when I walked on court last year but just fighting through that and sticking with her,” Robson said. “She made a lot of mistakes in the first set, which helped quite a lot. Hopefully, she’ll do that again. What I’ve liked so far here is I’ve gone on to the court pretty confident and stayed that way throughout the match.
“Starting from Wimbledon, I felt like I was winning the matches where I was supposed to win them, especially my second, third rounds there. That’s what I’ve done here so far. But it’s definitely a big match in the third round against Li Na. It’s going to be a tough one.”
Robson’s win over Garcia was the sort of warm-up she would have wanted before today’s encounter. She was calm, she was aggressive when she could be and patient when she had to be. Apart from one sloppy game in the second set, she was focused. If she can repeat that form today, there’s no reason why she couldn’t win again.
Serena Williams wasted little time reaching the third round of the US Open with a comfortable victory over Galina Voskoboeva.
The Kazakh world No 77 put up a better fight than the 6-3, 6-0 scoreline suggested but never threatened the No 1. Voskoboeva held serve in the opening game and had a break point for a 3-1 lead but Williams saved it and, from there, things went downhill for her opponent, who won only one more game in the match.
Voskoboeva was certainly not afraid to attack Williams, but the American was too solid when it really mattered.
The match had been due to be on Wednesday but was rained off, meaning Williams will have to come back today for her third-round match against another Kazakh, world No 55 Yaroslava Shvedova.