Briton Laura Robson beat Venus Williams 6-3, 6-2 in blustery conditions at the ATP/WTA Rome Masters on Monday and now faces the second half of a one-two punch when she next plays Williams’ sister and world No. 1, Serena.
The top-seeded American, who was watching from the stands, has targeted this week and hopes to follow up her Madrid trophy from the weekend.
“I’ve never played her and I have always wanted to,” Robson said of her Serena date. “It’ll be a good test and she is playing probably her best tennis and so she is not losing and so it’s going to be insanely tough but I’m just going to go out there and do my best.”
The 39th-ranked Robson moved through to the second round in just under 90 minutes against Venus, the 1999 Rome winner now ranked 24th.
The five-time Wimbledon winner committed six double-faults, and dropped serve five times. Robson, 19, closed it out on her third match point. Venus pulled out of her first match last week with back pain and had reportedly been training at half strength in Rome.
Elsewhere in women’s play, Australian Samantha Stosur was third time lucky in her pre-French Open campaign, with the ninth seed finally scoring a European clay victory this year with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan.
Stosur wasted no time in getting to Rome after her opening loss last week in Madrid to Carla Suarez Navarro, with 2010 Roland Garros finalist Stosur glad to get some work in on her game. She was also winless in Stuttgart last month.
“I really like the surface, the clay courts here are very light and the ball gets through the air pretty quickly,” the Australian said. “As long as it’s not too windy it’s great.”
Germany’s Sabine Lisicki beat American Madison Burdette 6-1, 6-2, but German sixth seed Angelique Kerber withdrew prior to her opening match with an abdominal injury and was replaced by Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain.
China’s Peng Shuai defeated Romanian Monica Niculescu 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 while Italian Nastassja Burnett put out 2008 finalist Alize Cornet of France 6-2, 6-2.
In a night match that was suspended briefly due to a lights outage, 59th-ranked Kiki Bertens of Netherlands beat 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone 7-6 (5), 6-1.
In men’s action, 11th-seeded Marin Cilic beat Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan 6-4, 6-2 and Italian wild-card Potito Starace rallied past Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 to set up a match against second-seeded Roger Federer.
In a late match, 16th-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan dispatched Italian wild-card Paolo Lorenzi 6-2, 6-4.
Nishikori, who upset Roger Federer in Madrid last week, called for a trainer while leading 4-3 in the second set to tend to his right thigh but did not appear slowed while closing the match out.
Meanwhile, 10th-seeded Janko Tipsarevic withdrew from the tournament with bronchitis and Lukas Rosol took his place in the draw.
In the women’s doubles Olga Govortsova of Belarus, and Megan Moulton-Levy of the US defeated Taiwan’s Chan Hao-ching and Darija Jurak of Croatia 3-6, 6-3,13-11.
Additional reporting by staff writer