PA Sport

Laura Robson defeated in first round of qualifying for Australian Open

Laura Robson defeated in first round of qualifying for Australian Open
By PA Sport

12/01/2017 at 08:14Updated 12/01/2017 at 08:19

Laura Robson's Australian Open lasted just 74 minutes after the British number five lost in the first round of qualifying to France's Amandine Hesse.

Robson was hoping to build on an encouraging performance at the US Open four months ago but the 22-year-old made a sluggish start against world number 205 Hesse and never recovered.

Her 6-2 6-4 defeat at Melbourne Park means Robson has failed to win a competitive match since September, while Hesse goes through to meet either Spain's Silvia Soler-Espinosa or the American doubles specialist Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

Robson has been searching for a consistent run of results since returning from her nightmare 18 months out with a wrist injury and the Briton, who was born in Melbourne to Australian parents, showed signs of progress last year, winning an ITF event in Landisville, Pennsylvania in August, before reaching the US Open's main draw.

But while there were glimpses here, particularly during a late fightback in the second set, of her excellent ball-striking from the back, too many errors, including nine double faults, cost the world number 222 dear against a steady but unspectacular opponent.

There was a strong British contingent of support among an otherwise sparsely populated Court 13, with Robson's coach Lucie Ahl, Jeremy Bates, Britain's new Fed Cup captain Anne Keothavong and the LTA's performance director Simon Timson in attendance.

Robson, however, struggled for rhythm in relatively mild temperatures of 23 degrees Celsius as a missed short forehand gifted Hesse an early break and then a double fault conceded a second for 5-2.

Hesse closed out the set and grabbed another break in the first game of the second, again via a double fault, but Robson looked finally to be finding her groove when a rasping forehand winner levelled the set at 4-4.

Just as she had the momentum, however, a poor service game handed it back, and a delighted Hesse sealed progress on her second match point when a Robson return landed long.

Tara Moore also exited at the first hurdle of qualifying, with the British number four going down in three sets to Hungary's Dalma Galfi.

Moore, the world number 165, went into the ascendancy after edging the first set on a tiebreak but her opponent, three places higher in the rankings, battled back to level and then swept the final set to claim a 6-7 (2/7) 6-3 6-1 victory.