- US Open, Day Three
Rampant Robson topples Clijsters
Laura Robson wrote her name in US Open history by ending the singles career of one of the great Flushing Meadows champions, beating Kim Clijsters 7-6(4) 7-6(5).
This is Clijsters' final appearance at the US Open and she had spoken positively of winning four a fourth time, but she was overpowered by the youngest player in the world's top 100.
The last time Clijsters lost at the US Open, 2003, Robson was nine. With that in mind it had the feeling of woman against girl. But in reality it did not play out that way as Robson shrugged off some early nerves to blast the three-time winner off court.
Clijsters confirmed prior to the tournament that this would be her last competition. She started well, but Robson felt her way into the contest and simply powered away, leaving the Belgian to wave goodbye to Arthur Ashe Stadium for the final time - although she does have doubles left to play.
There was no sign of what was to come early on, as Robson - so often suspect in her movement around the court - was worked from corner to corner and had no answer. Robson staved off an early break point, but the pressure continued in the following service game and Clijsters broke through courtesy of a quite brilliant forehand down the line.
A love hold from Robson appeared to settle the nerves as Robson broke back in the ninth game, working the opening by stepping in and hitting with venom.
Robson traded with Clijsters in the 11th game and the pressure was clear, as the 2010 champion let out a 'come on' when coming through a tough hold. Clijsters had three looks at set points in an epic 12th game, as Robson faltered on serve, but she held to force a tiebreak.
Robson looked in trouble when a minibreak down but two stunning returns of serve put her two points from the set and the suspect serve held firm to move her ahead.
Robson backed up the set by holding in her opening service game and a sign of her growing confidence was demonstrated by a cheeky drop shot. But the serve continues to be the Achilles heel and two double faults handed Clijsters a break from nowhere.
If Clijsters thought it would be a springboard to finding her comfort zone she was mistaken as Robson broke back immediately. Winners and errors were traded, emphasising the pace and power both players were putting on the ball.
Robson saved break points in the fifth game and it was a similar story with Clijsters in the sixth, as the pair continued to fire the ball with venom.
Clijsters has made her career by stepping in and hitting from inside the baseline, but for large spells Robson took that away from her with crisp returns of serve. Clijsters attempted to counter in the eighth game and a string of winners suggested a shift in momentum was close but Robson stood firm to hold in the ninth.
Robson had a wobble in the 11th game when netting a smash after failing to put the ball away one shot earlier, but she overcame the mental turmoil to hold. Robson had match points in the 12th game, but Clijsters staved them off with a drive volley and an ace to force a breaker.
As in the first tiebreak, Clijsters got herself ahead and looked set to level but Robson continued to soak up pace and fire back her own.
At 5-5 in the breaker Robson produced the shot of the match, a forehand down the line that clipped the outside of the line, and it set up a match point on her own serve. If there were nerves, they did not show as she fired a crisp serve into the body that Clijsters could not control and the ball went over the baseline.
And in toppling Clijsters, Robson joins an elite list, as only Serena and Venus Williams, Justine Henin, Amelie Mauresmo and Lindsay Davenport have beaten her at Flushing Meadows.