Hobart TAS, Australia, 6 January 2014 | AAP
Samantha Stosur has blown out some rust in a nailbiting opening round victory at the Hobart International.
The top-seeded Australian has downed American qualifier Madison Brengle 6-7(4) 6-1 7-6(5) at the Domain Tennis Centre for her first win of the season.
In a rain-interrupted match that finished nearly five hours after it started, Stosur overcame the tough conditions and a determined world No.147 to progress.
Brengle saved four match points before Stosur punched home a volley to convert her fifth in a third-set tiebreaker.
Two rain breaks, wind gusts and temperatures that hovered around 15C made for a gruelling first set before the world No.17 clicked into gear to win the second in just 19 minutes.
She broke in the third to lead 4-3 but failed to serve it out, Brengle saving three of the Australian’s match points before taking it to a tiebreaker.
Stosur will meet France’s Kristina Mladenovic in the second round as she tunes up for the Australian Open, where she exited in round two last year.
The win will come as a relief after three straight losses at the Hopman Cup in Perth.
A frustrated Stosur had struggled to hold her serve, and find the middle of her racquet, in the first.
The 29-year-old saved four break points in a marathon first service game but led 2-1 with a break when the first rain interruption came.
She broke again to lead 4-1 and served for the set at 5-4 but couldn’t convert.
A second rain delay of nearly an hour-and-a-half didn’t help and, after she’d led the tiebreaker 4-3, Stosur watched Brengle convert her first set point.
The second set couldn’t have been more different as a dominant Stosur rediscovered her serve and raced to a 5-0 lead before closing it out.
Dellacqua trumps qualifier
Australian Casey Dellacqua is through to the second round of the Hobart International after a straight sets victory over Belgian qualifier Alison Van Uytvanck.
Wildcard Dellacqua downed Van Uytvanck 6-4 6-4 after play was delayed for two hours by rain.
The 28-year-old, who made three Grand Slam doubles finals with Ashleigh Barty in 2013, made the crucial first set break in the ninth game to lead 5-4.
The left-hander converted her first set point with a blistering forehand down the line.
Dellacqua led 5-2 in the second but, serving for the match, was broken by her 19-year-old opponent.
Leading 5-4 she served out the match, converting her first match point when Van Uytvanck hit wide.
The West Australian will play either fourth seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or American Alison Riske in the second round.
The Hobart tournament suffered a second blow in as many days on Monday when fifth seed Flavia Pennetta joined Venus Williams in withdrawing.
Pennetta has cited a wrist injury.
Her place has been filled by Belgian lucky loser An-Sophie Mestach.