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Kaia Kanepi ends Laura Robson's magnificent run

Laura Robson holds a frustrated face on No.1 Court.
by Ronald Atkin
Monday 1 July 2013

Kaia Kanepi, the Pride of Estonia, marched into her second Wimbledon quarter-final by defeating the British teenager Laura Robson 7-6 7-5 on No.1 Court. It was a victory which will have delighted the 1.3million citizens of her homeland as much as it depressed Robson's legion of admirers, both inside and outside the confines of the All England Club.

It was a hard-won success as Kanepi gradually found her better form as the match wore on, but she needed to offer Robson thanks for making a hash of golden chances to capture the first set. She served for it at 5-4 only to be broken and then also blew a 5-2 lead in the subsequent tie-break.

Kanepi was also grateful to the spectators for their fair-mindedness. Understandably they were keen to help carry Robson into the last eight at the 2013 Championships, but as Kanepi pointed out afterwards: “At least they didn't clap my double-faults.”

Not only did the audience refrain from applauding the 28-year-old Estonian's five double-faults but they also mustered a welcome, only slightly subdued, for her nine aces and the fighting qualities which, allied to some shaky play by Robson, swung this match her way after one hour 35 minutes.

Her quarter-final place, to set alongside equivalent achievements at the Championships of 2010 (as a qualifier), as well as quarter-finals at the French Open in 2008 and 2012 and the US Open of 2010, stand as testament to her all-court skills, and the latest success is a deserved one after a depressing run of injuries saw her plunge down the rankings.

Having not played this year until April because of heel surgery, she was ranked (at No.46) lower than Robson (No.38), so the win can also, by a stretch of the imagination, be deemed an upset.

Robson will long rue her missed opportunity, however. On the biggest day of her career she was clearly nervous at the key moments, missing the break point which would have sent her into a 2-1 first set lead. The Robson forehand, a damaging weapon on the good days, was malfunctioning rather too frequently but she was gifted a 5-4 lead on a service break courtesy of two shocking Kanepi unforced errors.

So Robson, bidding to become the first British woman since Jo Durie 30 years ago to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final, served for the set, only to be betrayed by erratic forehands.

British hopes soared again in the subsequent tie-break as the 19-year-old Robson surged into a 5-2 lead but the collapse which followed was embarrassing as Kanepi grabbed six of the next seven points.

Now in the ascendant, Kanepi missed a break point in the opening game of the second set and two more in the seventh game before embarrassing Robson by taking her delivery to love to lead 6-5. All she needed now was to serve out for a memorable afternoon, which she managed but only on her fifth match point.

With reason, Robson professed herself  "really disappointed". She spoke the truth when she added: "I had my chances and I just didn't take them. But it's all part of the learning experience.”

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