Stosur into second round of Australian Open
Noted front-runner Samantha Stosur has progressed safely to the second round of the Australian Open in Melbourne.
Noted front-runner Samantha Stosur has progressed to the second round of the Australian Open in Melbourne.
Stosur had to hold her nerve during a first-set tiebreaker before putting away the free-swinging Kai-Chen Chang 7-6(3) 6-3 on Monday to break her summer duck.
With a remarkable 53-0 record after winning the first set in Grand Slam tournament matches, Stosur would have been relieved to nick the tiebreaker against her Taiwanese opponent.
The victory puts the 2011 US Open champion into a second-round clash with either Jie Zheng or fellow Chinese player Yuxuan Zhang.
Jie, who made the last four at Melbourne Park in 2010, beat Stosur last week in Sydney.
For now, though, Stosur will be savouring the desperately needed breakthrough after a run of outs in front of her home fans.
“Obviously it’s been a pretty tough summer so far,” Stosur said.
“But I was looking forward to today. I thought I prepared really well. I’m really glad to come out here and get a win.”
Stosur said she “didn’t read any papers or watch any news” in the lead-up to the Open as she tried to block out the pressure.
“I just did what I normally do – get out on the court and practice hard,” she said.
“It’s worked in the past and worked everywhere else so it should work here too.”
Despite her relatively low ranking of No.86 in the world, Chang was never going to be a pushover for Australia’s ninth seed, edging Stosur in a third-set tiebreaker in their only previous meeting, in Osaka last October.
Stosur made a promising start in their return bout on Monday, firing down a wide-serving ace on the very first point of the match. She safely held but dropped serve to trail 2-1 after shanking a forehand and pulling a backhand wide. Stosur immediately broke back, only to double-fault to drop serve for a second time and fall behind 3-2.
Stosur reeled off three straight games but was unable to serve out the set at 5-3, netting a forehand to allow Chang to get back on serve.
As Chang began to boss Stosur from the baseline, the signs were ominous – especially given the Queenslander’s record of only ever having won six from 38 matches from a set behind at a slam.
After snatching the tiebreaker though, Stosur’s confidence was up, and she gained a key early break in the second set to push ahead 2-0 and was then able to keep her nose in front before serving out the match after one hour and 42 minutes.
Meanwhile, Sacha Jones became the first local player to exit, losing 6-3 6-2 to Kristyna Pliskova from the Czech Republic. Jones, 22, was born in New Zealand but changed her allegiance to Australia – where her father was born – in early 2012. She kept pace with Pliskova for much of the opening set before the Czech upped the ante in the second of a match which lasted 73 minutes.
Red-hot Agnieszka Radwanska also overran another local hope in Bojana Bobusic. The 25-year-old Bobusic – who won last month’s wildcard playoff – made a fast start and served for the first set at 5-4, but the No.4 seed from Poland broke back for 5-5 and then reeled off the last nine games of the match to win 7-5 6-0.
There are nine Australians in action on day one of the first Grand Slam tournament of the year.