Tennis

Britian’s young stars crash out at the first hurdle

Robson had been out with a wrist injury since October (©GettyImages)
Robson had been out with a wrist injury since October (©GettyImages).

Britain’s only women’s singles players crashed out in the first round of this year’s opening Grand Slam in Melbourne.

World number 46 Laura Robson was dismissed in just 50 minutes by Belgian Kirsten Flipkens, seeded 28 places higher than the 19-year-old.

Her compatriot, Heather Watson, took her game against veteran Daniela Hantuchova to three sets, but the Guernsey-born star was defeated 7-5 3-6 6-3 by the 31st seed.

It was Robson’s first full match of 2014, after retiring at the same stage in the Hobart International last week, and the lack of match fitness showed as she was beaten 6-3 6-0.

Robson lost the first nine points of the match, and went on to make a total of 32 unforced errors, including five double-faults.

Robson told BBC Sport: “I don’t think I ever really got into a rhythm at all. I definitely expected to play better, but it happens.”

Unlike Robson, Watson had to suffer three qualifying rounds to make it to the main draw, which took her tally up to nine matches already in 2014 prior to a face-off with Slovak Hantuchova.

Despite keeping pace and using her natural fighting instincts to battle through the first two sets, British number three Watson could not stick with her heavy-hitting opponent, losing two of her service games to make it four consecutive Grand Slam first round defeats.

In the end, the World number 121 realised that her minor mistakes cost her the chance of a place in the next stage.

“I felt I was close throughout the match,” said Watson to BBC Sport. “I started slow in the third set and should have got up while she went the bathroom and kept moving.

“But I had plenty of chances and didn’t take them.”

The opening-day defeats leave World number four Andy Murray, as the only Brit left in the singles tournaments at the Australian Open.

He begins his challenge for a first Australian Open title against Japan’s Go Soeda on Tuesday evening.

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Topics:
Heather Watson
Tennis
Australian Open
Laura Robson

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