• US Open, Day Five

Robson is well and truly up and running

Alex Livie September 1, 2012
Laura Robson is well and truly in the big time © PA Photos

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One of the hardest things for a tennis player looking to rise up the rankings is backing up a big win. You only need to look at Lukas Rosol as evidence of that. He has gone off the grid since that win over Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon.

Laura Robson had that to contend with when she took on Li Na, having ended the career of the great Kim Clijsters a couple of nights previous. And she dealt with it in quite brilliant style, taking the game to the No. 9 seed and sending her packing after suffering the setback of losing the second set in a tiebreak.

It was a quite brilliant performance, mature beyond her 18 years of age. Robson has long been hailed as a future champion, winning junior Wimbledon at 14 tends to do that. Through her teenage years it has been clear that she has the weapons to compete. Her groundstrokes travel like bullets from a gun, her serve is potentially excellent and she has great court craft.

The one thing that was holding her back was her movement around the court. Robson is never going to be able to scamper like a Clijsters, but at times it has been painful to watch her run along the baseline like her feet were cased in lead. And as for her turning ability, it was a case of the least said the better.

Robson won Olympic silver in the doubles with Andy Murray and her movement is something he is aware of. "She's got very easy power and great timing," Murray said. "She hits the ball great when she's in a good position. I think if she keeps improving on her movement, she's going to be a very, very good player."

And it would appear Murray has done his bit to aid Robson in her bid to mix it with the elite. Following the win over Li Na, Robson said: "Since the Olympics I have been working with Andy's fitness trainer Jez. He has been helping me with the speed stuff. I like the work he does and it seems to help."

It certainly has as in her three games at the US Open the transformation has been nothing short of remarkable. She has been chasing down balls that would normally have been beyond her, showing excellent speed and agility, and that capacity to make your opponent play one more ball is huge.

Robson has enlisted the services of coach Zeljko Krajan, who is famed for his hard-line approach to fitness. Robson has touched on this already, suggesting she is now able to work hard on her fitness on account of being injury free.

If Robson can buy into Krajan's work ethic, there is no reason why she won't given her desire to succeed, she could well realise the potential and join Murray at the top of the British tree.

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Alex Livie Close
Alex Livie was editor of ESPN.co.uk