Britain’s Andy Murray backed compatriot Laura Robson to reach the top of the sport after the teenager’s stunning US Open victory over three-time champion Kim Clijsters.
Robson (18) the youngest player in the top 100, sent Clijsters into retirement with her 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/5) win on the same Arthur Ashe court where she had been champion in 2005, 2009 and 2010.
Murray, who secured his place in the third round with a comfortable 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 win over Ivan Dodig of Croatia, saw Robson up close when they teamed up for a silver medal in mixed doubles at the Olympics last month.
“She moved very well today. You need to want to chase down the balls and believe you can get to the balls,” said Murray.
“At the Olympics, she was moving much better than she had in the past. Today she moved very, very well. She hits the ball great when she's in a good position.
“I think if she keeps improving on her movement, she’s going to be a very good player. She’s very good already but she’ll get to the top much quicker.”
Murray was the first man into the third round where he faces either No 30 Feliciano Lopez or Pablo Andujar on Saturday, both Spanish, for a place in the last 16.
Meanwhile Robson, who reached the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time, tried to play down the significance of the occasion but appreciated the fact that she will always now be known as the player who ended the career of one of the sport’s most popular women.
“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,” 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.”
Robson 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. “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.
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.