• US Open, Day Five

Brilliant Robson slays Li Na

ESPN staff
August 31, 2012
Laura Robson powers down a serve © Getty Images

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Laura Robson's stunning run at the US Open continued with a fantastic win over the No. 9 seed Li Na.

Having ended the career of the great Kim Clijsters in the previous round, Robson showed no signs of a hangover as she again dominated from the baseline and simply overpowered Li in a 6-4 6-7 6-2 success.

Li started the match with a double fault and it set the tone. Robson, from the opening point, sensed Li was far from secure on serve and she stepped up on to the baseline - just as she did to devastating effect against Clijsters. Li fended off three break points but Robson was not fazed and broke when Li sent a backhand over the baseline.

The advantage was short-lived as Li stepped inside the baseline and hit with venom to work the break point and Robson, as Li had done in the previous game, surrendered her serve when throwing a drive over the baseline.

Li, as in the first game, opened with a double fault in the sixth game. Robson stepped in with power hitting and broke again to lead 4-2 and she duly backed up the break with a hold as she refused to give ground on the baseline.

Robson's serve is still a major cause for concern and two double faults and a sloppy backhand saw her surrender the break back. But Li was arguably more tentative on serve and Robson broke for a third time to take the opening set - making it five out of five at this years's US Open.

Robson started well on serve in second set, but a double fault set her back and Li broke, only for Robson to break straight back. Just as it appeared the serve was of little value, Robson found some consistency and a 106mph ace helped her hold to love in the fifth game.

An ace at break point down helped Robson hold in the seventh game and the pair found strength on serve to take the set to a tiebreak.

It was a tense breaker, with both eking out chances, but Li found a good length and it paid off on set point as a ball skidded off the line and forced Robson to sky her shot into the crowd.

Li appeared to release the shackles with a confident hold at the start of the third, hitting with freedom on both wings, but she was forced to save three break points in a titanic third game.

It was a similar story in the fifth game, but on this occasion Robson broke. And she did so despite an awful line call. At break point, Robson struck what looked a winner. It was called out, to everyone's surprise, and a Robson challenged showed the ball landed flush on the line. Robson was understandably frustrated at having to replay the point, but she steeled herself and broke through a couple of points later.

Robson backed up the break in the sixth game, despite another poor call, and having looked so strong at end of the second, Li was visibly shaken by the setback and Robson broke for a second time to lead 5-2.

And she held her nerve to serve out and book a fourth-round meeting with Sam Stosur. The defending champion is up next for Robson as Stosur came through a tough examination to topple Varvara Lepchenko 7-6(5) 6-2.

Victoria Azarenka justified her top billing with a 6-0 6-1 thrashing of Jie Zheng. The top seed ended the day's play with a comprehensive display during which Zheng failed to hold serve.

Maria Sharapova is one of the big threats to Serena Williams and the Russian breezed to a 6-1 6-1 win over Mallory Burdette who will now head back to college after her fine run in the tournament.

Sharapova will face a fellow Russian in the fourth round, with Nadia Petrova up next following her 6-4 7-5 win over Lucie Safarova.

Marion Bartoli also advanced to the fourth round, with the No. 11 seed proving much too good for her fellow Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic. Bartoli will face a major test in round four, as she is due to face Petra Kvitova who beat Pauline Parmentier 6-4 6-4.

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