The Estonian upended British hopes in a fighting fourth round clash on court 1 at Wimbledon. Kanepi needed an hour and 36 minutes to end the much celebrated run of the 38th ranked player, who is incidentally a resident of the Wimbledon area.
The 19-year-old, who resurrected herself from the jaws of defeat in the earlier round, could conjure no such magic as she succumbed to a 6-7(6), 5-7 defeat at the hands of her 28-year-old opponent.
Robson showed deceptive calm early in the match as she held confidently to love in the sixth game of the first set. At the other end Kanepi was just as assured as her opponent, to ensure that the two remained even into the eighth game.
In the critical ninth game, the Estonian developed a sudden bout of jitters. She made two straight forehand errors to offer break points to Robson. The Brit missed the first, but struck a stinging forehand past her stretched opponent to clinch the first break.
Even as the crowd were relishing the prospect of their lady taking the first set, Robson turned tentative. Kanepi used her experience to good effect to rattle a couple of winners past her ruffled opponent to snatch back the break and stay level at 5-5.
With the set rolling into a tie-break, Kanepi was the first to blink sending a routine backhand into the net. Robson rode the mini-break to take a 5-2 lead. With the set on her serve again, Robson made an expensive double fault at 5-4. Kanepi then took advantage of Robson’s unsteady hands to take the breaker 8-6 to silence the partisan crowd.
Having survived from the brink of defeat in the earlier match, Robson was forced to call on her sharpest battle-axe in fighting off possibly fatal break points in the first and seventh games of the second set. Spurred on by her own efforts and the crowd, Robson held to 5-4 and forced Kanepi to serve to stay in the set.
The Estonian rattled off eight of the next nine points to break at love and take a 6-5 lead when Robson dumped a routine backhand in the net to gift away the vital break.
Hope made a sudden reappearance when Kanepi made a couple of nerve riddled errors to squander two match points in the next game. And it intensified into a sparkling array of lights when she made a double fault on her third opportunity to take the match. Robson struck a deep cross court forehand, drawing an error on Kanepi’s fourth match point.
Eventually though, Kanepi found her composure and struck an easy forehand winner to seal victory and a spot in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon for only the second time in her career.
Robson made 24 unforced errors, six more than her opponent.
The 46th ranked woman has never been past the last eight at any of the games major events. Kanepi will take on Sabine Lisicki in the quarter-finals, with the German having handed a rare defeat to Serena Williams in the fourth round.