NEW YORK -- Laura Robson, the 18-year-old from Britain who ended the 29-year-old Kim Clijsters’ singles tennis career by upsetting the three-time champion in the second round, took the confidence she gained from that match and used it in upsetting ninth-seeded Li Na of China, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-2 on a hot Friday at the U.S. Open.
The 30-year-old Li had lost only five matches to lower-ranked players in 2012. Robson had already achieved her best-ever major tournament results when she took out Clijsters in an emotional match where Clijsters said a tearful goodbye to singles tennis.
Li said she was most impressed with Robson’s serving. “Huge first serve,” said Li, who was a finalist at the Australian Open and winner of the French Open in 2011. “I was also making a lot of mistakes the whole match, so I gave her a lot of free points for her. Made her like, ‘Oh, I got more confidence. Oh, I can beat her.’
“I’m not so happy about today, about the way I play.”
Steve Johnson of Orange, who won two straight NCAA singles titles and this year was undefeated while leading USC to its fourth straight team title, also advanced to the Open’s third round for the first time. Johnson beat 2011 Los Angeles Open winner Ernests Gulbis of Latvia, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-4 in 3 hours, 11 minutes. Johnson threw his arms in the air after the victory. Next up for Johnson will be 13th-seeded Richard Gasquet of France, who beat former Stanford star Bradley Klahn.
Defending women’s champion and seventh seed Samantha Stosur of Australia had little trouble in taking out 31st-seeded American Varvara Lepchenko, 7-6 (5), 6-2.
And the men’s fourth seed, David Ferrer of Spain, moved almost unnoticed into the third round. Ferrer overwhelmed Igor Sigsling of the Netherlands, 6-2, 6-3, 7-5 (12).