BEIJING (AFP) –
British number one Laura Robson has admitted she’s mystified by her scintillating form in China after putting together a run which could help her crack the top 50 for the first time.
The 18-year-old has won seven of her last eight matches, becoming the first British woman to reach a WTA final since 1990 — at the Guangzhou Open — and progressing to the second round of the China Open in straight sets.
“I don’t know what it is,” said Robson, who has risen from 131st place in the rankings at the end of last year to 60th currently.
“I don’t think it’s China because I haven’t really left the hotel in Guangzhou or here (Beijing) yet apart from to go to Starbucks.
“I think the courts suit me here because they are usually quite fast,” added Robson, whose breakthrough year also saw her make the fourth round of the US Open.
Robson was ranked 74th when she lost the Guangzhou Open final just over a week ago, emulating Jo Durie’s appearance at the Virginia Slims of Newport tournament 22 years ago.
Now, the London-based prodigy has got the top 50 firmly in her sights after knocking out Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-4, 6-4 in the first round of the Beijing tournament.
A good showing this week at the final mandatory tournament of the season, one of four which ranks behind only the Grand Slams and WTA Championships, and a strong performance in Japan afterwards should see Robson achieve her target.
“After this week I should be pretty close,” Robson told AFP. “It’s definitely a target — but it’s not a like a goal, I haven’t spoken to my coach about it.
“It’s just if it happens it will be really good but I’ve got to keep winning here for sure and do well in Osaka (next week) to have a chance.”
Robson admitted there were parts of her game she needed to work on, particularly her movement, but she said was in a confident frame of mind and felt she could win matches even when she was not playing her best.
Australian Samantha Stosur, the 2011 US Open champion who ended Robson’s excellent run at Flushing Meadows this year, said the WTA’s youngest top 100 player had a bright future and would only improve as she gains more experience.
“I think she’s showing really good promise,” Stosur said.
“She hits the ball extremely well, and as she gets a bit stronger and maybe a little bit older she will learn how to do some other things on the court, not just be able to strike it well but her movement will improve and all that.”
Robson moved to the British number one spot after she defeated Kim Clijsters and Li Na during her impressive US Open run. This year she also won mixed doubles silver at the London Olympics alongside Andy Murray.
Her next opponent in Beijing is Spain’s Lourdes Dominguez Lino, with world number three Agnieszka Radwanska lurking as a potential opponent in the third round.