New York: British teenager Laura Robson played down her shock US Open victory over Kim Clijsters, insisting she most definitely did not feel like the girl who shot Bambi.
“I wouldn’t go that far. I would say that was (Benjamin) Becker beating Andre Agassi in his last match here a few years ago,” said the 18-year-old, who sent the triple champion into retirement with her 7-6, (7/4), 7-6 (7/5) win.
Robson, who has now reached the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time, said she tried to play down the significance of the occasion on the same Arthur Ashe court where Clijsters had been champion in 2005, 2009 and 2010.
But she appreciates that she will always now be known as the player who ended the career of one of the sport’s most popular women, both on and off the court.
“I honestly didn’t think about it at all during the match. I was so focused on trying to play as aggressive as I could so she couldn’t put the pressure on me and that’s all I thought about,” said Robson, the world number 89.
“At the end, it was obviously really sad to see her play her last match. But it happens sometimes. And, yeah, I’m feeling a little bit worse now that you keep mentioning it.”
Clijsters’s defeat ended a 22-match winning streak at Flushing Meadows and was her first loss since she went down in the 2003 final to compatriot Justine Henin.
Eighteen-year-old Robson, the youngest player in the top 100, was just five when Clijsters made her New York debut in 1999.
But she was always aware of the achievements of the Belgian, who was also the 2011 Australian Open champion and a former world number one.
“I think she’s been able to bring so much to the women’s game. I’ve always loved watching her play because she’s such a dynamic player,” said Robson, who next faces another major winner, the 2011 French Open champion Li Na.
“Her movement is something that I wish I could have. And it’s just been great to watch her over the years.
“A few years ago I was here to watch a friend of mine, Sally Peers, and she played Kim second round. It was a night match on Arthur Ashe. Sally got absolutely killed, but it was really interesting to see Kim live for the first time and see just how quickly she moves around the court.”
Robson and an emotional Clijsters embraced at the net after the end of the match before the Belgian star praised her opponent as one to watch in the future.
“I knew before I stepped out on court that I would have to play well. I’ve practiced with her in Wimbledon. I said to my team she hits the ball so clean,” said the former champion.
“I think physically if she gets better, even more explosive, then I think she’s going to be a great player, and someone that I’ll be keeping an eye on.”