Laura Robson: One Williams down, one to go in Rome

By Philip James

Laura Robson def Venus Williams 6-3 6-2

Laura Robson defeated seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams in Rome today to set-up a round two match with Venus’ sister, and world number one, Serena.

Robson, ranked 39th, in the world is 15 places below Venus who, due to injury, is this week playing only her fifth tournament of the year on the clay of Internationali BNL d’Italia.

That injury seemed to hamper Venus’ game today as Robson broke the former world number one six times during the 85-minute match.

It was Robson whose serve was first in danger however, as the left-hander had to save two break points in the second game of the match.

But in the very next game 19-year-old Robson herself forced 15-40 and took the second break point to move ahead.

Robson seemed to be taking the set at a canter as she consolidated the break and then doubled it with some help from a Venus double fault to lead 4-1.

Venus then reached 0-40 on Robson’s next service game but the Brit held on, saving six break points to stretch her lead.

The American threatened a fight back as she held and then finally did break, on her eleventh break point of the set to close the gap to two games.

But Robson slammed the door, breaking right back to seal the set 6-3 in just under 45 minutes.

For Venus, who has 44 career titles to her name, the serve used to be one of her biggest weapons but she held just twice in the first set.

It was not long before Robson struck in the second set, breaking serve at 2-1 and 4-1 to get within touching distance of round two.

Even when Williams earned one break back there seemed little chance of a recovery and so it proved as Robson then broke for the sixth time in the match, taking her third match point to win 6-3, 6-2.

After the match Robson recalled being inspired watching Venus play when she was young, but showed no sign of nerves against an opponent who could still hit hammering winners from either wing.

Her reward for beating the former world number one?  A match against the top seed, current world number one and other Williams sister; Serena.

Robson had a fine run in Madrid last week beating world number four Agnieska Radwanska, her first win over a player ranked in top five, before narrowly losing to Ana Ivanovic in round three.

But Serena won that tournament sweeping all before her and only dropping one set, an unceremonious bagel against a wild card entrant.

Just to make the task sound even more daunting; only seven women have ever beaten both Venus and Serena in the same tournament and only one has done it on clay.

Robson will need to follow in the footsteps of Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario, Steffi Graf, Martina Hingis, Kim Clijsters, Lindsay Davenport, Justine Henin and Jelena Jankovic (the only one to beat both on clay) to reach round three.

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