Laura ROBSON is having the tournament of her life in New York – even if Wayne Rooney cannot spell her name.
The 18-year-old made it back-to-back wins over former grand slam champions today when she added Li Na’s scalp to that of Kim Clijsters with another stunning performance at the US Open.
If Wednesday’s victory over the three-time champion, which sent Clijsters into retirement, was a coming of age for Robson, this was even better.
Li has been one of the form players of the north American summer but in the end she was outplayed by the world number 89, who powered to a 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-2 victory.
Robson’s performances have attracted a lot of attention, and Rooney tweeted how impressed he was by the teenager as he watched on television, although rather spoiled it by calling her Laura Robinson, which he later blamed on his phone.
Robson said smiling: “He called me Robinson. I saw that when I was stretching. He blamed it on predictive text. Can you blame that on predictive text, though? I’m not so sure.”
Comedian James Corden was in the crowd on Louis Armstrong Stadium, and Robson hopes her success can help boost the profile of tennis.
She added: “It’s great that he (Rooney) watched, even though he got my name wrong. The more people that watch, the better. Maybe a few people a bit younger than me have seen his tweets and said, ‘I want to play a bit of tennis now.’
“It’s great, and I think James Corden was watching me today as well. I spotted him midway through the first set, and then spent the rest of the time trying not to wave.”
The first set was rather error-strewn from both players, but ninth seed Li in particular, and, after Robson had been broken serving for it when she double-faulted, Li promptly dropped her serve again.
The Chinese player won the French Open last year and showed her class at the end of a tight second set, proving just too strong in the tie-break.
It looked like Li may have dodged a bullet but instead Robson redoubled her efforts and her prodigious ball striking ultimately proved too much for her opponent.
The 18-year-old threatened a break in the third game of the decider and then made her move two games later despite an unlucky line call.
There was no stopping Robson now and she broke for a second consecutive time before making it five games in a row to clinch victory and set up a date with yet another grand slam champion, last year’s US Open winner Sam Stosur.
Robson’s belief did not waver despite losing the second set, and she said: “I had the opportunity to win it in two. It was a really close tie-break, and at 5-5 she played two really good points. There’s not much that I can do off that.
“I knew that if I kept playing the way that I was and kept playing how I started the first set, really aggressive and accelerating on my forehand when I had the opportunity, then I knew that she would struggle.
“That’s what I did. I also think that I returned a bit more aggressively in the third set.”
Robson now faces Australian top-ten player Sam Stosur.