US Open: Naomi Broady gets the better of Laura Robson in battle of the Brits

Naomi Broady had to dig deep and demonstrate “northern grit”,  as she put it, to see off British compatriot Laura Robson, coming back from a set down to win 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of the US Open.

Nothing to separate the two players in the first set

Both players held their opening service games comprehensively in their first encounter and it was Robson who was tested first in the fourth game. The former world number 27 squandered multiple game points before having to save a break point with a fiercely struck backhand on her way to holding to level at 2-2.

The seventh game saw Robson make her first inroads into her British compatriot’s service game, striking two strong returns to bring up 0-30. Broady had her back against the wall down two break points but responded brilliantly with huge serving and a nicely struck volley on her way to recover to take a 4-3 lead.

At 5-5 Robson struck two of her best forehand winners to bring up two more break point chances. Once again the British number three responded, firing down two aces, one at 119mph, as Broady escaped with another hold.

In the tiebreak Robson broke down first on the forehand side to give Broady the first mini break. The British number three quickly extended her lead to 3-1, but a good return from her opponent earned the mini break back. As had been the case throughout the set, at the change of ends the players could not be separated at 3 points each. A forehand down the line winner from Broady restored the mini break, but the current world number 254 hit back, winning both of Broady’s service points as she wrapped up the first set 7-6(4).

Broady fights back

The start of the second set saw a shift in momentum as Broady raced to a 0-40 advantage, with three opportunities to break Robson immediately. The former world number 27 saved the first but could not deny the current British number three on the second occasion. Broady could not maintain her advantage for very long, hitting two backhand errors to relinquish serve as Robson levelled the score at 1-1.

The match looked to be getting away from Broady down 2-1 and 0-30 on serve, but the British number three got her game together and won six points in a row to earn a 0-30 advantage on Robson’s serve. This time it was the world number 254’s time to respond, reeling off four points in a row to take a 3-2 lead.

Broady played an excellent return game to restore her break advantage with deep hitting onto the baseline, earning her a 4-3 lead in the second set. With a comfortable service hold under her belt, the British number three stepped up the pressure and broke Robson to love after a double fault to secure the set 6-3 and take us into a decider having won 10 points in a row.

Robson served nine double faults and hit 41 unforced errors in the match. Photo: Getty
Robson served nine double faults and hit 41 unforced errors in the match. Photo: Getty

Missed opportunities from both as Broady edges the final set

Broady opted to take an extended bathroom break at the end of the set, leaving Robson to contemplate missed opportunities. That reflection time appeared to have worked in the former world number 27’s favour as she fired a cross court backhand winner to reach break point. However, Robson put an attempted forehand down the line winner agonizingly wide, before Broady saved a second break point with an ace down the middle. That comeback to hold marked a 11 consecutive point winning streak behind the British number three’s serve as she progressed to move 3-2 in front.

The scoreboard pressure being applied by Broady put Robson under pressure in the sixth game as a double fault left her facing break point. The Brit fired herself up after hitting an unreturned serve but then proceeded to hit another double fault. Broady’s one handed backhand broke down in the following rally on break point and that reprieve allowed the world number 254 to level at 3-3.

The British number three extended her service points streak to 13 before Robson came back with three points in a row as a double fault left Broady break point down. Robson played a poor slice at the net to squander the golden opportunity and two big serves saw Broady stay in front.

The British number three struck at the right time as she applied the pressure on Robson’s serve at 5-4 to break to love and secure her first main draw win at Flushing Meadows 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4 in two and a half hours. The Brit awaits the winner of the match between fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska and American Jessica Pegula.

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