Robson's final dreams ended in Palermo
Laura Robson's breakthrough week at the Italia Open will not end with a maiden WTA title after she was beaten by Barbora Zahlavova Strycova on Saturday.
Robson had never previously reached the last eight of a WTA event, but after winning Friday's quarter-final she had dreamed of repeating the trick in the semis. However, after taking the first set she succumbed to a 2-6 7-5 6-2 loss in Palermo.
The 18-year-old, facing the world No. 71, showed few signs of nerves in one of the biggest matches of her career to date, holding to love in the opening service game.
Robson then penetrated the Zahlavova Strycova serve at the first time of asking, sweeping into a 2-0 lead. She was aided by a double-fault from the Czech to set up break point, which was then converted when Zahlavova Strycova sent a forehand long.
That initial lead did not last long for the Brit, who lost her own serve as the scores levelled up at 2-2, before she fended off a series of break points to deny her rival the lead.
That proved crucial as Robson then broke for 4-2, thanks largely to a beautiful angle that set up the break chance. Two solid service holds confirmed the set, at which point Zahlavova Strycova called for treatment.
The match continued and the fitness concerns of Zahlavova Strycova faded as she exchanged breaks with Robson midway through the second set, moving ahead again at 5-4. However, as she looked to serve out for parity at one set all, Robson hit back again for her fifth break of the contest.
Robson's second serve was weak all afternoon, though, and she offered up yet more chances to her opponent, who this time broke and cemented her position to take the second stanza 7-5.
An early break in the decider put Zahlavova Strycova in control, and Robson's error count grew - coughing up 18 double-faults as the match slipped from her grasp. The Brit finally exited after two hours and 34 minutes on court.
Zahlavova Strycova will play top seed Sara Errani in the final, after Errani beat Irina-Camelia Begu 6-4 6-1.