MELBOURNE, Australia - Laura Robson became the last woman into the last 32 at the Australian Open, but it was anything but straightforward as she battled back from a first set blowout - and a 3-0 hole in the third - to stun No.8 seed Petra Kvitova in a Thursday night thriller, 26 63 119.
Kvitova, a semifinalist at the Happy Slam last year, cruised through the first set but never looked settled the rest of the match as Robson began dictating with her big serves and groundies - she bounced back to take the second set and, after falling behind 3-0 in the third, bounced back again, getting back on serve and breaking at 5-all. She served for the match leading 6-5, but it was not to be - yet.
"I was pretty disappointed with myself in how I tried to serve it out at 6-5 in the third," said Robson, who got broken right back in that game. "I just gave her a bit too much time on the ball."
There were mixed feelings from Robson, however, when comparing the victory to the one over Li. "I feel I was playing better in New York," she commented. "I thought today was pretty ugly, but in terms of how tough it was to close it out at the end, I think it's right up there with one of the best wins.
"I started off very up and down. You know it's going to be a pretty ugly match when you start off with two double faults. You can't win a set when you're playing five unforced errors compared to every winner. So at the start of the second set I knew I just had to play with more consistency and percentage."
And what was she pleased about most? "That I never gave up. Even when she went up a break twice in the third, I thought I could always break her serve, I just had to get as many returns in as I could. And in the end, I thought I had nothing to lose, so I just relaxed on my service games and went for it.
"I'm happy, but a bit tired. I'm looking forward to going back to my apartment and sleeping."
Next up for Robson is No.29 seed Sloane Stephens, which will be a match-up of the two highest-ranked teenagers in the world - Stephens is currently at No.25 in the world, Robson currently No.53.
"We first played each other when I was 10 or 11, I think," Robson said of Stephens. "She beat me last week at the tournament in Hobart and it was a pretty close match, but I definitely feel like I could play a lot better than I did last week, and it's going to be really tough against her, for sure.
"She's in good form at the moment. She's a good mover and a good ball striker. It's always going to be a tough match, but yeah, hopefully I can play better than I did today."
Other upsets included Bojana Jovanovski over No.17 seed Lucie Safarova, 75 75; Elena Vesnina over No.21 seed Varvara Lepchenko, 64 62; and Svetlana Kuznetsova over No.26 seed Hsieh Su-Wei, 62 61. No.14 seed Maria Kirilenko, No.16 seed Roberta Vinci and No.20 seed Yanina Wickmayer moved through, as did Carla Suárez Navarro, who had taken out No.7 seed Sara Errani in the first round.
The bottom half of the draw will kick off third round play on Friday at Melbourne Park.