Jan 19 2013
Laura Robson conceded she may have to curb her attacking instincts if she is to progress deeper in grand slam events.
The British number two exited the Australian Open at the third-round stage after going down to fellow teenager Sloane Stephens. Stephens was noticeably more patient in the rallies and it paid dividends as she won 7-5 6-3 to secure a place in the last 16.
Asked what she needed to work on to improve her game, Robson replied: "I would say shot selection in the points. Sometimes I still go for a bit too much when I'd be better off playing an easier shot rather than going for winners the whole time. Against anyone if you try to finish the rally too early, it's never going to work out that well."
In her defence, Robson was hindered by a shoulder problem which came on overnight. "I felt something in my shoulder but we still don't know what it is because I haven't had time to see the doctor," she added. "But these things happen and you just have to play through the pain sometimes."
Stephens made a blistering start, blasting winners from all angles to make Robson look lethargic. The 18-year-old called the trainer after the fifth game as the issue with the shoulder became apparent.
At 4-1 up Stephens had not made an unforced error and was flying even though her progress, having broken twice, had just been checked as Robson claimed one back. The delay clearly stalled the American's momentum as Robson mounted a comeback, breaking again to get it back on serve.
Stephens' attacking game had deserted her as she became content to push the ball down the middle of the court and wait for her opponent to make an error. It almost worked as she brought up two set points with Robson serving at 4-5. But the Briton's tenacity came to the fore as she saved both.
The 29th seed threatened again two games later and this time Robson could not find an escape route as she drifted a backhand wide, although she may claim to have been put off by someone in the crowd loudly declaring Stephens' previous shot out.
Robson remained the aggressor at the start of the second but Stephens was proving deceptively canny, mixing blazing groundstrokes with periods of passive play. Stephens made her move in game four. Having staved off three break points, Robson could not repeat the feat a fourth time as Stephens lured her towards the net and then ripped an unreturnable drive at the feet.
Serving for the match, Stephens had to rebuff two break points before setting up her first chance to win the match. She fluffed her lines, dumping a routine backhand volley into the net but made no mistake second time round when Robson thrashed a wild forehand wide - her 47th unforced error of the match.