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Robson bounces back in Eastbourne

ESPN staff
June 18, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Laura Robson's serve was vastly improved in her first match at the Aegon International © AP
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Laura Robson got her grass court season back on track with a comfortable 6-3 6-2 victory over qualifier Yuliya Begelzimer in the first round of the Aegon International.

The British No. 1, who lost her opening match at the Aegon Classic in Birmingham last week, will have the chance to avenge her French Open first round defeat by Caroline Wozniacki when the pair meet in the second round in Eastbourne.

Robson came into the match as a firm favourite to beat the Ukrainian, ranked 150 places below her in the WTA rankings.

But it was the manner of the victory that will be most pleasing to her interim coach, Miles Maclagan, with Robson allying her powerful attacking play to a consistency that has been missing from her game this season.

Robson spent the time leading up to the Aegon International practicing at Wimbledon, and after a sluggish start the 20-year-old soon found her rhythm and began to dictate play from the back of the court.

Having survived a break point in the opening game, the world No. 37 broke at her first opportunity with a forehand return winner to move into a 4-2 lead, consolidating the break with a love game on serve.

With her forehand regularly finding its mark for a string of pinpoint winners and her serve looking far more resolute than it has for some time, Robson brought up set point with an ace and powered another forehand past Beygelzimer to move in front.

Robson carried that form into the start of the second set, breaking to 15 as the Ukrainian failed to cope with her opponent's weight of shot, and the four serves that proved enough to move 3-1 ahead - two aces followed by two service winners - were evidence of how effective a weapon it can be when in good working order.

Beygelzimer raised her game to stay in touch, producing a fine drop volley and forehand winner to stay in touch at 3-2, but that was as good as it got for the qualifier. Robson moved through the gears to break once more, sealing the match with another service winner.

"I think there's still so many things that I can improve on but I thought I served really well today," Robson said. "That's a big bonus for me, and hopefully I'll get better with every match."

Elsewhere on Tuesday, top seed Agnieszka Radwanska suffered her third opening-round defeat in Eastbourne in four years at the hands of American qualifier Jamie Hampton. The Pole crashed out 7-6(2) 6-2 and will head to Wimbledon with just 90 minutes of competitive grass court tennis this season.

Wildcard Samantha Stosur, a three-time Aegon International semi-finalist, dispatched No. 8 seed Nadia Petrova 6-2 6-3, while Germany's Angelique Kerber eased past Sorana Cirstea 6-4 6-4.

No. 2 seed Na Li made light work of France's Alize Cornet in a 6-2 6-4 win disturbed late in the second set when a spectator fell down the stairs in the centre court stand and was treated by paramedics.

Former champion Wozniacki was handed her place in the second round when Tamira Paszek retired with a left thigh injury while trailing by a set, while former Wimbeldon champion Petra Kvitova crusied to a 6-4 6-1 victory over Monica Niculescu.

Britain's Johanna Konta exited at the hands of Su-Wei Hsieh in a 6-4 6-3 defeat, while Ekaterina Makarova blitzed Russian compatriot Olga Puchkova 6-3 6-0 and Lucie Safarova came out on top in the battle of the Czechs, bouncing Klara Zakopalova out of the tournament 6-4 7-6(3).

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