Laura Robson and Heather Watson continue their battle to rewrite British women's tennis history Down Under
By Tim Clement - Twitter: @SkyTimClement
Last Updated: 21/01/13 11:58am
Laura Robson and Heather Watson continue their battle to rewrite British women's tennis history at the Australian Open.
The pair enjoyed breakthrough campaigns in 2012, both on personal levels and for Britain, with Robson making the fourth round at a major and reaching her first singles final - two achievements none of her female compatriots had managed in over a decade.
Watson, who had earlier reached the third round at Wimbledon, then claimed her maiden title in Osaka at the end of last year, which saw her break the world top 50 for the first time.
The next target is a quarter-final spot at a major, something that now looks simply a matter of time.
Teenager Robson is the favourite to break that new ground Down Under, with Sky Bet making her 9/4 to reach the final eight at Melbourne Park, while Watson is rated at 20/1.
The significant difference is the difficulty of their respective draws, with Watson 9/1 to overcome Agnieszka Radwanska on Friday, while Robson is 6/4 to progress past fellow teenager Sloane Stephens.
The latter brings together an intriguing battle of the WTA's most promising talents, with Stephens on the brink of breaking into the top 20.
Robson will be looking to avenge defeat in their solitary meeting, having gone down 4-6 6-7 (4-7) in Hobart.
The fact that it was the first match of the year for both might lead some to discount the result somewhat, while others might want to back Bernard Tomic to win the men's title having beaten Novak Djokovic in their Hopman Cup opener.
If Robson's runs have been spectacular, Stephens' best results have come from being solid, with none of her wins in 2012 coming against players currently ranked higher than her, with exception Maria Kirilenko who retired with their match level at one set apiece.
In contrast, Robson has beaten three former Grand Slam champions in the last two majors.
That can possibly be explained by their opposing styles, with Robson a heavy hitter with an eye for a winner, while Stephens' efficient and hard-working approach draws out the unforced errors.
While the rewards for the winner will be a date with either veteran Kimi Date-Krumm or Bojana Jovanovski, a winnable draw for either teenager, Serena Williams looms ominously in their quarter.
Expectations may turn into hopes at this stage of the Slams, but it is a giant leap from the position women's British tennis' bleak position this time last year.