Robson and Watson crash in Australia, but cricketers thrive
A bad start to the Australian Open tennis is counterbalanced by the England women's cricket team
THERE was more woe for English sports stars in Australia as tennis hopes Laura Robson and Heather Watson were both knocked out of the Australian Open in the first round.
Robson, who was last year seeded at the US Open, suffered the indignity of becoming the first competitor to be knocked out of the tournament as she lasted just 50 minutes against Kirsten Flipkens, the 18th seed, who beat her 6-3, 6-0.
Watson put up more of a fight, but lost to Daniela Hantuchova 5-7, 6-3, 3-6 in two hours and 34 minutes.
The results will "send both women sliding down the rankings ladder", warns the Daily Telegraph. Robson's "was by far the more disappointing of the two results", says the paper, but the damage will be greater for Watson, who is ranked lower. "She loses 120 rankings points, and for the scufflers and scrappers who populate the lower reaches of the game, that is on a par with having your car stolen."
Robson has been struggling with a wrist injury and looked "horribly rusty" in her first full match since October, says Russell Fuller of the BBC. She will need further treatment on the injury before her next tournament in Paris in a fortnight.
Last year both women made it to the third round, but "their departure, after starting on nearby courts at 11am, reduced the British singles representation on either side of the gender divide to the familiar presence of Andy Murray", notes The Guardian.
But while the tennis offered little for British sports fans, the England women's cricket team took a "huge leap" in their fight to retain the Ashes as they won the only Test against Australia in Perth, reports The Guardian.
Australia, set 185 to win the match were bowled out for 123, as Anya Shrubsole claimed 3-48.
It means that Charlotte Edwards's team now need to win just two of the six limited-overs matches to win the series, played across different formats, and do what England's men failed so spectacularly to do, and keep the Ashes.