Tennis: Baltacha ices opponent to progress into second round

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Elena BALTACHA emulated Laura Robson in reaching the second round of the US Open in New York and, like her compatriot, the British No. 1 benefited from a retirement.

Robson had led by a set and 1-0 yesterday when Japan’s Ayumi Morita called it quits with a shoulder injury while Baltacha was on the verge of victory over US wild card Jamie Hampton on Court 7 at Flushing Meadows when her opponent dramatically collapsed.

After a bad start, Baltacha had recovered to lead 2-6, 6-2, 5-1 and had just gone 30-15 down when Hampton, who had received treatment earlier in the third set, slumped to the floor with severe cramp. The 21-year-old was quickly attended to by doctors, while Baltacha helped in fetching towels and ice to aid her stricken opponent.

The Scot’s success meant two British women have made it through to the second round of the US Open for the first time since 1991.

Baltacha, ranked 58th, will now play former US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second round after the Russian 15th seed beat Sara Errani 7-5, 6-1.