A Williams too far for Robson

By Philip James

Serena Williams (1) def Laura Robson 6-2, 6-2

Laura Robson could not make it two Williams scalps in two days as she lost to Serena in round two of Internationali BNL d’Italia in Rome today.

Robson, who yesterday defeated Venus Williams, was ahead early against Serena but never really threatened to snap the world number one’s winning streak, which now stands at 20 victories on the trot.

Britain’s top ranked woman hit more winners than her illustrious opponent but could not keep the unforced error count down.

It could be argued that against Serena most errors are ‘forced’ by the need to keep the ball out of her hitting zone.

But in reality Serena never really hit top form tonight and the 35 unforced errors from Robson meant she never had to.

The number one seed is in the hunt for her 51st title in Rome, after she swept all before her in Madrid last week to reach her half century.

British fans can be excused for getting excited as Robson broke her American opponent in the opening game of the match.

But from there Williams won 4 games in a row, breaking back immediately and saving a break point at 1-1 before breaking again.

Double faults as well as unforced errors were proving costly and did so again at 2-5 as Serena broke for a third time to take the set in 33 minutes.

Things looked more promising at the start of the second set as Robson started to control more points, and saved two break points to keep the score on serve.

At 2-2, Robson had two break points of her own, but Williams saved them both and showed what it meant to her with her trademark grunt and fist pump.

From that missed opportunity, sadly Robson did not win another game but was broken twice, each time on a double fault, as Williams won the match 6-2, 6-2 in an hour and 15 minutes.

With eight double faults alongside the unforced errors the stat sheet did not make great reading for British tennis fans.

But there were positives to be taken away from the match;

Robson served more aces than Williams (3-2) and forced numerous break opportunities, but just could not take enough of them.

The Brit hit some great winners and imposed herself on the game rather than waiting for mistakes from her opponent.

Robson has played better before and will do again, and it will not always have to be against the best female tennis player in the world.

Only seven women have ever beaten both Venus and Serena in the same tournament (Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario, Steffi Graf, Martina Hingis, Kim Clijsters, Lindsay Davenport, Justine Henin and Jelena Jankovic) and only one has done it on clay (Jankovic).

Robson is not quite in that league, yet….