Robson beats American Oudin to deliver first win and join Watson in round two
05:33 GMT, 15 January 2013
06:16 GMT, 15 January 2013
Laura Robson spent the first year of her life in this charming city and, just short of her 19th birthday, she has now won a grand slam match there.
The British No 2 convincingly overcame America’s Melanie Oudin 6-2 6-3 after 75 minutes of highly efficient combat, played out in warm conditions to reach the second round of the Australian Open, where she will join Heather Watson.
Robson now has the tough task of facing former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, a left hander to whom she is not entirely dissimilar in their natural ball-striking abilities. The Czech will not hugely relish the task, given what her younger opponent did to some illustrious names in the US Open.
Double trouble: Laura Robson joined Heather Watson in the second round of the Australian Open
There was also evidence in this first round match that the hard work Robson has put in during a long training stint in Florida before Christmas with Croatian coach Zeljko Krajan has already paid a dividend.
She looked in good shape, is gradually moving better and there seems to be some extra ‘pop’ on her groundstrokes and, especially, her serve. That yielded eleven aces on a medium paced hard court and readily got her out of trouble on the few occasions she was threatened.
Oudin is a cautionary tale, a rising star at 17 who reached the US Open quarter finals and Wimbledon fourth round but has subsequently struggled to handle the pressures thrust upon her in a country anxiously looking for successors to the Williams sisters.
Blue skies: Robson impressed the healthy crowd in attendance in Melbourne
Robson’s rise has been more gradual due mainly to growth-related injuries, and that may not be a bad thing. Having lost here in the first round a year ago she should now move back into the top 50 having slipped this week to 53, and she looks worth that position.
Supported by a decent British contingent in the crowd Robson, who arrived in the UK aged six via a long stint in Singapore, was even treated to a version of the national anthem as she pulled ahead in the first set.
Oudin, ranked 30 places below her, was behind from the start as the Wimbledon-based southpaw repeatedly tucked into her serve and forced her onto the backfoot. When Robson came to serve she was hardly threatened, regularly able to crunch away a winner from a short return as the American struggled to cope with the swing, spin and speed of her left-handed delivery.
Eyes on the prize: Robson will now take on former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the second round
The British No 2 was up around the 110 mph mark on plenty of occasions and the diminutive Oudin was left flailing around in despair, not helped by her misfiring forehand in the case of rallies getting started. Such was the accuracy of Robson’s drives into the corners that most of the time she was not in a comfortable postion to play the shot.
Robson got ahead for 3-2 in the second but then played her worst service game to get broken for the only time. She broke again immediately afterwards and this time had no problem consolidating, clinching a second match point when Oudin sent another forehand wide and long.
After losing to her near contemporary Sloane Stephens in the first round of the Hobart WTA event last week this was just what was needed, and she now has very little to lose against Kvitova in what could be steaming hot conditions.