Laura Robson puts game face on for Wimbledon clash with Kaia Kanepi

There are a couple of ways Laura Robson – the first British woman to break into the top 30 in a quarter of a century – can win Wimbledon this year.

The youngest player left in the women's draw can continue to hit the cover off the ball, starting with her fourth-round match against Kaia Kanepi on Monday – or she can hire someone to kidnap Serena Williams before the quarter-finals.

Robson will move to 25 in the WTA rankings after coming back from being one game away from defeat against her friend Marina Erakovic on Saturday, and another win would likely earn her a shot at the world No1 in the next round.

So outrageously well has Williams been playing this past week (and every other week) that her one-hour blitz in the gloaming of the 42-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm on Saturday night, 6-2, 6-0, rated barely a mention. If she does the same to the 23rd seed Sabine Lisicki, she will take her winning sequence to 35 and nobody will bemuch surprised.

"What I've been working on is just accepting that I'm not going to play great tennis in every match," Robson said after her edgy win over Erakovic, which contrasted starkly with her commanding performance in the previous round against Mariana Duque-Marino.

Kanepi, the 28-year-old Estonian who was a quarter-finalist here in 2010, hit 46 unforced errors in her first match and just nine on Saturday when beating the American Alison Riske in straight sets. So she is finding her game at the right time. Robson hit 20 on Saturday, and she has work to do.

But she is in the right frame of mind. After her giggle-fest press conference after the second round, she wore a more serious game face on Saturday night, realising she had lost focus on court – and she was not about to entertain any more flippant jokes with reporters. "I think we dealt with that," she said when asked about her Twitter relationship with One Direction. The direction she is concerned about now is the path back to Centre Court, and a potential date with Williams, whom she lost to in Rome, if she can get past Kanepi.

Later, before heading for the doubles court, she was keen to deflect the attention towards Andy Murray.

"I think he is taking most of it," she said. "He is playing really, really well. It would be great if he manages to get through the later stages of the tournament but I am just going to focus on my match on Monday. I have never played her before but she is playing very well."

She is full of admiration for Murray, too, but says she is nowhere near emulating him.

"I am a long way off and have so many things I need to work on and improve on," she said. "But it takes time and a lot of hard work. That is what I have been doing and will continue to do. I saw him Saturday morning and stole five minutes of his practice time. Agnieszka Radwanska kicked me off my court before I had finished serving. Andy was doing all his balance and things like that so I just took his court for a couple of minutes. And my serve was better that afternoon?"

It was not amazing – five aces and two double faults, with more ball-toss jitters – but she will have to wait to get revenge on Radwanska for disrupting her preparation. The world No4 is in her section of the draw and first has to deal with the unseeded Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova. The Pole admires Robson, comparing her favourably to the rising American Madison Keys, whom she beat in three sets on Saturday. "They're playing similar tennis," Radwanska said, "although I played them on different surfaces. But they have really improved the past couple of months."

On the other side of the draw, Sloane Stephens, who beat Robson and Williams on her way to the semi-finals of the Australian Open, has been looking good, although she dropped a set to love in her win over the Petra Cetkovska. She plays the Puerto Rican Monica Puig, who shared facilities at Nick Saviano's academy with her, alongside Robson and the Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, although the American played down their friendship.

"We're not besties," she said, adding: "Myself and Monica obviously have good technique, Laura Robson, Genie Bouchard too. We all have pretty good technique. That's what he does well."

On the prospect of an all-American final against Williams, with whom she has had a fractious relationship, Stephens said: "If we get there, we get there. If we don't, there will be more."

That's confidence.

Powered by article was written by Kevin Mitchell at Wimbledon, for The Guardian on Sunday 30th June 2013 23.00 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


image: © marianne bevis