Robson sets up Sharapova showdown

30 July 2012 / 20:37

Laura Robson set up a second-round Olympics clash with Maria Sharapova after beating world number 23 Lucie Safarova with a gutsy tennis display on Court 18 at Wimbledon.

The 18-year-old, roared on by a raucous crowd, raced in to a comprehensive first-set lead, but she had to dig deep after a comeback from the Czech to wrap up an impressive 7-6 (7/4) 6-4 win. And Robson was not the only woman to make it through to round two with an impressive win, as Guernsey's Heather Watson hammered Silvia Soler Espinosa 6-2 6-2.

The crowd broke in to a rendition of God Save the Queen as Robson entered court, but the teenager afforded only a small smile as she was clearly focused on only one thing - taking her opponent apart from the off. Robson flew out of the blocks, sending Safarova to all corners of the court before breaking when the Czech sent a forehand long.

Safarova was struggling to find her rhythm and double-faulted in the sixth game to give Robson another break. The Briton looked poised to wrap up the first set inside 20 minutes but Safarova suddenly upped her play and Robson faltered, losing four successive games to put the set back on serve.

Robson saved another break point with an ace in the 11th to set up a tie break. Safarova drew first blood when Robson fired a backhand wide but the Londoner kept her composure to break back four times and seal the set after 51 minutes.

A much more disciplined performance from Safarova meant Robson was not allowed to start the second set as she did the first, but the Englishwoman remained calm. Safarova engineered three break points in the eighth game but she spurned them all. The hold gave Robson more momentum and she broke when forcing the Czech to go long with a forehand.

Safarova threatened a comeback in the 10th game, but Robson saved a break point with an ace before serving out for a victory which was greeted by a standing ovation from the crowd.

Sadly for the home crowd, Elena Baltacha could not pull off a shock against Ana Ivanovic in the second round to make it three British wins at SW19.

The Scot, who hinted after beating Agnes Szavay on Saturday she could be nearing the end of her career, put up a spirited fight against the former world number one, but left Court 18 in tears after succumbing to a 6-4 7-6 (7/5) defeat.

Baltacha later bowed out of the women's doubles after she and Anne Keothavong were comfortably beaten 6-3 6-1 by German pair Julia Goerges and Anna-Lena Gronefeld on Court Two.