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US Open: Guangzhou next up as Robson faces reality check

Tuesday, 4 September 2012 - 12:01pm IST | Place: NEW YORK | Agency: DNA
Laura Robson had grand ambitions for the Labour Day holiday in New York, and they did not include being confined to her room by a bout of food poisoning.

Laura Robson had grand ambitions for the Labour Day holiday in New York, and they did not include being confined to her room by a bout of food poisoning.

Ideally, she would have liked to be out on the practice court, preparing for a US Open quarter-final against world No 1 Victoria Azarenka. And if that did not work out, she hoped to assuage the pain of her fourth-round defeat with some heavy-duty shopping in SoHo.

The reality turned out to be rather less glamorous. And the same thing could be said of the next appointment on her tennis calendar. After a week of training at home, Robson will fly to China's third city, Guangzhou, next week, for an event with a total prize pot of $220,000. The equivalent figure at Flushing Meadows was more than $11 million.

If Robson can maintain her recent quality on the Asian swing, which travels from Guangzhou to Tokyo to Beijing to Osaka, she should be in the hunt to pick up a title or two. Because even in the match she lost on Sunday night, against defending champion Sam Stosur, she was performing like a top 20 player.

Robson made 41 unforced errors - a total she immediately pointed to as the reason behind her 6-4, 6-4 defeat - but she also tested Stosur's temperament in the final stages of each set. On another day, the Australian might have faltered when Robson saved eight match points, breaking serve to fight back from 2-5 to 4-5. But while Stosur has a reputation for fallibility at critical moments, she has been imperturbable since returning to the scene of her first grand slam title last year.

Robson clearly enjoyed the opportunity to rattle a few cages, knowing that all the pressure is on her opponent. But one challenge for both the player and new coach Zeljko Krajan is to make sure that she swings as freely in matches she is expected to win.

The most important thing, given that she is still only 18, will be not to get ahead of herself. Her final press conference on Sunday night was encouraging in this respect. Asked whether she thought her back-to-back wins over Kim Clijsters and Li Na would change the way she is regarded in the locker-room, she said: "I don't think so."

She has enjoyed being the centre of attention in the women's tournament over the last few days. "This morning there was a camera crew outside my hotel," she said, "which was a little bit freaky. I got really excited because I thought they were waiting for someone who was actually famous."

It was a nice bit of humorous self-deprecation, butafter the events of the past week, Robson is well aware she is heading for the big time. At least, after she has been through Guangzhou.


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