• Wimbledon, Day Two

Baltacha wins, Robson outgunned by Schiavone

ESPN staff
June 26, 2012

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Laura Robson was a disappointed loser in the first round at Wimbledon on Tuesday, but Elena Baltacha and Anne Keothavong became the second and third British women to reach round two.

Robson's power and exuberance eventually succumbed to Francesca Schiavone's experience and guile on Tuesday, as the Italian defeated the young Brit at Wimbledon.

Robson started strongly in the first round match and quickly opened up a lead over the former French Open champion, but 24th seed Schiavone varied her game midway through the second set and never really looked back - eventually securing a 2-6 6-4 6-4 victory despite a brave late surge from her opponent.

Perhaps buoyed by the performance of her friend Heather Watson on Centre Court on Monday evening, Robson came out firing against Schiavone - bullying her opponent with a series of powerful forehands to open up a 4-1 lead in the opening set after clinching an early break of serve.

At 5-2 Robson had to use her forehand - clearly her biggest weapon - to escape from a 0-30 hole, as she eventually reeled off four points in succession to avoid giving back her break of serve. In the next game she was at Schiavone's throat once again, overwhelming her with powerful, deep shots before a double fault on break point clinched the first set for the young Brit.

At the interval Schiavone began to complain of some pain in her back, as she called the trainer for treatment. After leaving the court for five minutes the Italian returned, however, determined to finish the match.

The impromptu delay did not immediately hold Robson back, however, as she continued to dictate the contest, although a break was not possible as the scores progressed to 3-2 on serve.

In the next game another costly double-fault handed Robson three break points but, after a mixture of unforced errors and diligent defensive play, Schiavone wriggled her way out of jail after Robson missed a straightforward forehand with the whole court open to her.

It was a worrying shot for Robson that seemed to indicate a turning of the tide, as suddenly it was the 18-year-old who was being forced around the court and missing wildly. In the next service game it was Robson's turn to try and prevent a break but, after one vital volley, she erred with a cross-court forehand to give her opponent the chance to level the contest.

That she would do, before breaking in the very first game of the decisive third set as her prior back problem no longer appeared to be affecting her. Schiavone quickly opened up a lead - adding a second break after a Robson double-fault - as she appeared to be cruising to belated victory, although Robson saved a couple of match points to ensure the Italian would have to do it on her serve.

Perhaps forced to go for broke, however, Robson suddenly clawed her way back into contention - breaking Schiavone to increase the hopes of a remarkable comeback.

But it was not to be, as Schiavone - now serving at 5-4 - spurned one match point with a double fault, lost another after a miraculous Robson passing shot but was then gifted the win as Robson's attempt to replicate that prior shot fell wide.

Baltacha, meanwhile, came from behind to defeat another Italian, Karin Knapp, over the same length of match.

The Brit dropped the opening set 6-4 but profitted as her opponent began to struggle with injuries, eventually ripping through the third set on the way to a 4-6 6-4 6-0 triumph.

She joins Watson in the second round - where she will now face Petra Kvitova - before Keothavong also joined the party late in the day with a 6-3 6-3 triumph over Spaniard Laura Pous-Tio.

Schiavone escaped but there was another seed to exit on Tuesday, as No. 19 Lucie Safarova was stunned by rising Dutch youngster Kiki Bertens, who romped to an eventual 6-3 6-0 success out on Court 4.

There was then further disappointment for British fans, as Johanna Konta returned to court against Christina McHale only to lose in a fraught third set.

Konta, who changed to represent Britain only this year, was tied at 7-7 in the decisive set when darkness forced play to be suspended last night, but could not surpass 28th seed McHale upon their return as she eventually lost 6-7(4) 6-2 10-8.

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