London 2012: Laura Robson battles bravely, but Maria Sharapova is too strong once again
18:27 31 July 2012
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Olympics tennis: Laura Robson lost to Maria Sharapova 7-5, 6-3
Wimbledon resident Laura Robson showed plenty of courage against world number three Maria Sharapova but once again she fell short against the Russian.
The two met each other at Wimbledon in 2011 and the match was almost a carbon copy of that encounter.
After a tense first set, with both players trading a break each, Robson made the critical error in the tie-break and Sharapova grabbed the initiative, like she did last year.
The Russian broke early in the second and although the plucky Brit broke back, the world number three completed the win, winning the second set by six games to three, as it was during their last encounter at the All England Club.
Sharapova, who completed the career Grand Slam earlier this year, made the first move and broke Robson in her third service game.
However, the Wimbledon resident broke back thanks to a double fault from the world number three and held her own in the following service game, thanks to the backing of a partisan crowd.
Sharapova held her nerve when serving to stay in the set and showed the Wimbledon crowd why she is one of the world’s best players.
Robson had her fair share of good fortune and had the luck of the net cords on occasions, forcing Sharapova to serve to take the first set into a tie-break.
The Russian did just that and after 50 minutes, the first set would be settled on a tie-break.
Robson made the worst possible start by double faulting the first point to give Sharapova the mini-break.
But the Russian returned the favour to move the tie-break back to level terms and then found the net to hand the Brit the advantage.
But Robson fired long with the fifth point to move it back to on-serve and missed the perfect opportunity, hitting the net, as Sharapova looked beaten.
The Russian then produced a second-serve ace to take the lead again but Robson responded with one of her own and forced the world number three to fire long.
But two good serves brought up set point for Sharapova and Robson was unable to hold off her opponent, missing the Russian’s return.
The loss in the tie-break appeared to have sapped her confidence and Sharapova had three break points for a 2-0 lead in the second set.
But Robson fought back to deuce and had the early advantage before a double fault returned it to 40-40.
Sharapova then grabbed the advantage, giving her a fourth break point of the game as the Brit’s serve went to pieces and the Russian took advantage and went a break up.
The world number three held the break and Robson won her first service game of the set, which eased her nerves and reminded the Russian that she was still in this contest.
That reminder turned into a stark warning as Sharapova found herself 30-0 down before another second-serve ace to claw her way back to deuce before a double fault gave Robson a break point.
But the Russian hit a wonderful shot down the line to return to deuce and when Robson fired long, she claimed the game comfortably.
Yet again, Robson had her chance in Sharapova’s next service game and when the Russian hit wide, the Brit was back on serve to the delight of the home crowd as Sharapova went for a bathroom break.
And Robson tensed up and threw it away to give the Russian the opportunity to serve for the match.
And that she did, sealing the win to set up a clash with Sabine Lisicki, with both players a strong contender for the gold medal.