Great Britain got its' long-awaited first male Grand Slam singles champion in 76 years when Andy Murray captured the U.S. Open title earlier this month, and now the Brits are eyeing a potential women's major titlist in the young Laura Robson.
Robson is an 18-year-old left-hander who was actually born in Australia and didn't move to the U.K. (by way of Singapore) with her family until she was 6, the same age she started to play tennis.
The promising star just reached her first-ever WTA final last week, only to lose to two-time 2012 WTA event champion Su-Wei Hsieh of Taiwan in Guangzhou, China. But in doing so, Robson became the first British woman in 22 years to land in a title match, or since Jo Durie finished as a runner-up in Newport back in 1990.
Note: The last British woman to capture a title on the WTA circuit was Sara Gomer in 1988.
Unfortunately for Robson, she let a 3-0 third-set lead slip away last weekend against Hsieh, but that was probably just the first of many finals to come for the talented southpaw.
Britain's top female player soared 17 spots up to a career-high No. 57 in the world, and she's the youngest of four teenagers in the women's Top 100, joining No. 38 American Sloane Stephens (19 years, 6 months), No. 61 Hungarian Timea Babos (19 years, 4 months) and No. 94 Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic (19 years, 4 months). And all four of these women can play.
Robson got everyone's attention when she ended Kim Clijsters' singles career with a stunning straight-set second-round victory at the recently concluded U.S. Open, where she then proceeded to shock former French Open champ Li Na in three sets in the third round. Clijsters was a three-time U.S. Open champion who hadn't lost in Flushing since 2003.
Unfortunately for Robson, her run in New York finally came to an end in the fourth round when she succumbed to then-reigning U.S. Open champ Sam Stosur in straight sets. Robson, however, did become the first British woman since Samantha Smith at Wimbledon in 1998 to reach the fourth round at a major tournament.
And the groundwork for a breakthrough 2013 season may have been set in the process, similar to the way left-handed German star Angelique Kerber broke out this year after making a brilliant run into the Open semis last September. Kerber opened 2011 at No. 47 in the world and is now all the way up to No. 6.
Can Robson follow suit?
Oddly enough, the 5-foot-11 Brit, who captured a silver medal in mixed doubles alongside Murray at the London Olympic Games, had struggled through much of the year heading into the 2012 U.S. Open. The Wimbledon resident was a disappointing 6-11 for the season, including first-round losses at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon and a second-round setback at the Games, on the tour before finally locating her quality game in the Big Apple.
Since losing in the opening round at the final U.S. Open tune-up in New Haven, Robson, she of the undoubted potential, has gone 7-2, with wins over Clijsters and Li and a trip into her first-ever final.
The promising lefty was the Wimbledon junior champion as a 14-year-old in 2008, becoming the first British girl in 24 years to capture a Wimbledon junior title, and twice reached the girls' final at the Aussie Open, in 2009 and 2010.
The Brits haven't had a female Grand Slam singles champ since Virginia Wade captured Wimbledon way back in 1977. And if they're going to get another one anytime soon, it would appear as though Robson has the best chance.
The bottom line here is ... keep your eye on Robson in 2013.