Saturday 20 January 2018

In brief: Teen Robson the great Brit hope

British tennis has a new heroine. Playing the match of her life, Laura Robson (17) was afforded a standing ovation in Court No 1 at the conclusion of her stirring effort against Maria Sharapova. The huge swirl of applause echoing around the show court was almost as loud as the victor's service grunt. Almost.

True, the bare result -- a 7-6, 6-3 victory to the Russian -- will hardly look the stuff of optimism in the record book. To describe her as a success after that might be nothing more than an indication of the depths to which British tennis has sunk.

But nevertheless, the former junior champion was magnificent here. Some future possibly lies ahead for Robson. Sharapova, it has to be remembered, did not rest long on her junior titles. After taking the under-age crown, she first won the main prize at Wimbledon at the same age Robson is now. And the 24-year-old veteran glided silkily onto court yesterday with all the self-possession of a serial winner.

Court furore rolls on

The controversy over the scheduling of matches continued yesterday, with top players and officials questioning the decision to make Serena Williams play on Court No 2 on Thursday.

Serena's sister Venus beat Spain's Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez on Court No 1 yesterday and the organisers denied Serena the use of Centre Court when they scheduled her third-round match against 26th seed Maria Kirilenko of Russia on Court No 1. World No 1 Caroline Wozniacki will play Austria's Jarmila Gajdosova on Centre.

In total, it means that the Williams sisters, who have won 13 Wimbledon singles and doubles titles between them, will have played just two of their first six matches on Centre Court.

"If it wasn't a little surprising, we wouldn't be talking about it," Andy Roddick said. "So, there's got to be something to it. We were all pretty surprised about it. Certainly if anybody deserves to play anywhere, the two Williams sisters do."

In addition, Wozniacki and Vera Zvonareva, the world's top two players in the WTA rankings, were both scheduled on Court No 2 yesterday. Wozniacki beat Virginie Razzano, but Zvonareva was surprisingly beaten 6-2, 6-3 by Tsvetana Pironkova.

Wozniacki said afterwards: "Serena played on Court No 2 and she's won here so many times. So, if she can play on Court No 2, then I guess I can too. Obviously I think I deserve to play on one of the bigger courts. Everyone wants to play on there. But it's up to the tournament to decide."

On the court, Venus beat Martinez Sanchez, the world No 76 from Spain, 6-0 6-2.

'Mr serve' broken

andy Roddick has lost his mojo and it is almost certainly to do with his socks. What else explains why the three-time finalist at Wimbledon became the first major victim of the 125th Championships, defeated in straight sets by a streaky Spaniard effectively held together by duct tape?

The American is usually a presence to be feared on grass, but then it is difficult to be scared of a man who sports little cut-off socks more usually seen on schoolgirls.

The only thing missing from his smalls were pink pom-poms, and Feliciano Lopez certainly was not fazed, overcoming the world No 10 7-6 7-6 6-4 in a little over two hours.

Roddick might be a declining force for some, but you would not have found many punters outside Centre Court prepared to bet their strawberry money on this outcome.

Swathed in black medical straps covering his right leg and back, Lopez has been inside the top 20, but is now ranked 44, and he had not beaten Roddick in seven previous meetings. The left-hander's last defeat only came two weeks ago at Queen's.

But then again, they would not have foreseen Roddick, Mr Serve himself, throwing in three double faults in a single game as he served to stay in the match.

He was also out-aced, 28 to 23. It was like watching a superhero have his special power stolen.

Rafael Nadal, meanwhile, will resume his match against Gilles Muller one set to the good after rain forced the defending champion off Court No 1 seconds after he claimed a close first-set tie-break.-set tie-break.

Irish Independent

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