MELBOURNE, Australia -- Tennis rivals don't normally get messages from their opponent's mother wishing them well in the next round. Particularly after a defeat.
Moments after American Sloane Stephens beat fellow teenager Laura Robson of Britain 7-5, 6-3 in a third-round match at the Australian Open on Saturday, she received a text.
"She was like, 'Great job, good fight.' And she said, 'Cathy says great job and good luck in the next round,' " Stephens said of the message her mother relayed from Robson's mother, Cathy.
Stephens, 19, and Robson, 18, are two of the most promising young talents on the women's tour, and the match between them felt like a glimpse of future Grand Slam encounters -- perhaps a bit later than the third round.
They also just happen to be friends -- and their mothers are friends, too.
She did think they'll get a larger venue than Court 2 next time. "I don't think we'll play that court ever again."
There are certainly enough similarities between the players to suggest a rivalry could be in the making.
Both are close in age -- Stephens is nine months older than Robson, whose 19th birthday is on Monday.
Both are coming off breakthrough years. Stephens reached the fourth round at the French Open and rose to No. 38 in the rankings by the end of 2012, becoming the only teenager in the top 50. And Robson defeated two former Grand Slam champions -- Kim Clijsters and Li Na -- to reach the fourth round at the U.S. Open and rise to 53rd in the rankings.
And both are being touted as future stars in their respective countries -- Stephens as a future replacement for the Williams sisters at the top of the game and Robson as the next hope for British tennis on the women's side.
The match itself, however, nearly didn't live up the billing. Stephens broke Robson twice to race out to a 4-0 lead in the first set before Robson, troubled by a sore shoulder, called for a medical timeout to have treatment.
Robson picked up her game after the break. Cheered on by the highly partisan crowd -- Robson was born in Melbourne before moving to Britain -- she began hitting shots deep into the corners and forcing errors from Stephens, leveling the score at 4-4.
Robson would be undone by her own errors, though. Stephens broke her at 6-5 to capture the first set and then again in the fourth game of the second set to close out the match.
Robson had 47 unforced errors overall, along with just 11 winners.