• Aegon Classic

Robson and Watson crash out in Edgbaston

ESPN staff
June 12, 2013
Laura Robson could not find a way back from early breaks in both sets against Daniela Hantuchova © PA Photos

Laura Robson's new coach Miles Maclagan will have a better idea of the task ahead after the British No. 1 crashed out of the Aegon Classic, losing to Daniela Hantuchova 6-3 6-4 in her opening match in Edgbaston.

The defeat was the second blow of the day for British tennis fans, who saw Heather Watson eliminated by Russia's Alla Kudryuavtseva in the day's first match on the Priory Club's Ann Jones Court.

World No. 37 Robson, who was handed a bye in the first round, turned in an erratic performance against Hantuchova, and failed to recover from early breaks in both sets.

The seventh seed made a slow start to her first singles match on grass in 2013, dropping her first two service games to Hantuchova in the blustery conditions, but responded with a break of her own to stay in touch at 3-1.

Former Edgbaston finalist Hantuchova has never possessed the power of her 19-year-old opponent but was soon hitting her marks, landing her first ace of the match to open up a 4-1 lead.

Top of Maclagan's agenda will be addressing Robson's serve, which was once again wayward throughout the opening set. She hit four double-faults in all, making just 47% of first serves and converting just two of the 12 points played on her second serve.

Her Slovakian opponent saved three break points in the next game to move 5-2 ahead, and moved 0-30 up on Robson's serve with a beautifully controlled lob volley before Robson responded, holding with another ace.

But it was too late for the Briton to find a way back into the set, and Hantuchova moved in front when she forced Robson to send a forehand long.

Visibly frustrated by a string of lax errors, Robson immediately found herself facing three break points at the start of the second set and slipped behind as Hantuchova slotted a forehand winner down the line.

Robson looked more solid on serve for the rest of the set but failed to make an impression on return, winning just five points on the Hantuchova serve. The 30-year-old's forehand did most of the damage, and the former world No. 5 served out the match with ease.

Hantuchova admitted that she benefited from her extra time on the grass as Robson adjusted to the speed of the court.

"It always helps to have a few matches," Hantuchova said. "I had the same yesterday when I played a qualifier, she had already played two matches. You always have to be ready for it.

"This was my first WTA tournament, so it would mean the world to me to be able to win one day," she added.

Hantuchova will face 12th seed Kristina Mladenovic, who ended British interest in the draw by beating Johanna Konta 6-4 6-1.

Earlier in the day Watson paid the price for a sub-par display as she crashed out 6-4 6-3 to Kudryavtseva.

The No. 14 seed, who won her first match since recovering from glandular fever in the first round, failed to recover from a slump that saw her lose six consecutive games from 4-4 to trail by a set and two breaks against the world No. 172.

The Briton eventually rediscovered her touch, playing with more typical verve to bring up her first break point of the match - only to see umpire Maria Alves overrule a fault called against Kudryavtseva's baseline drive and order the break point to be replayed. The Russian made the most of the reprieve, holding to move 4-0 ahead.

Watson stopped the rot with a love hold and clinched her first break of the match to make it 4-2 as sparks of her best form belatedly broke through, but four unforced errors in the next game all but ended any hopes of a comeback.

Elsewhere, Romanian third seed Sorana Cirstea eased through her second-round encounter with former Wimbledon semi-finalist Tsvetana Pironkova with a 6-4 6-4 victory, while American Maria Sanchez came through the battle of the qualifiers, ousting Alison van Uytvanck 7-6(3) 6-3.

Bojana Jovanovski fought back to beat Andrea Hlavakova 4-6 6-1 6-4, but ninth seed Yanina Wickmayer crashed out 6-4 6-0 to Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.

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