Melbourne, 22 January 2011 | AAP
Czech party pooper Petra Kvitova shattered Samantha Stosur's Australian Open dream with a straight-sets third-round victory over the great local hope tonight.
Stosur never recovered after losing a tense 63-minute first set, eventually succumbing 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 in a major disappointment at Melbourne Park.
Hardly a household name in Australia, Kvitova nevertheless arrived for the season-opening grand slam in ominous form after winning the Brisbane International two weeks ago.
The hard-hitting, left-hander also reached the Wimbledon semi-finals last year and had the Stosur camp extra nervous after crushing the Australian for the loss of just three games in their only previous meeting at the 2008 French Open.
Stosur's worst fears were realised when the 20-year-old world No.28 bludgeoned 35 clean winners to Stosur's 11 to send the fifth seed packing after one hour and 35 minutes.
Australia's world No.6 created ample opportunities throughout the match to break Kvitova but was never really able to come to terms with the southpaw's wide-angled serve to her backhand.
Tellingly, Stosur also managed to win only 38 per cent of points on her second delivery, the usually reliable big kicker that has become such a feature of the French Open runner-up's game.
While Australia's 33-year Open title drought continues, Kvitova can look forward with high hopes to a fourth-round encounter on Monday with Italian Flavia Pennetta.
Stosur was under the pump from the outset, having to rally from love-40 and four service breaks down to hold serve in the opening game of the match.
Kvitova made no mistake second time around, belting a big groundstroke winner to break Stosur for a 2-1 lead before holding for 3-1.
Stosur battled hard to break back in the sixth game, wrong-footing Kvitova with a clever off-forehand.
The Queenslander had to fend off another break point the very next game, firing an unreturnable serve and then smacking a forehand winner down the line to hold for 4-3.
Stosur was unable to convert either of two break-point chances in the eighth game and then found herself under further pressure on serve in the 11th game.
But she held her nerve and came up with two powerful first serves on break points to hold for 6-5 before Kvitova, almost inevitably, forced the set into a tiebreak.
With a remarkably flawless 34-0 record after winning the first set in grand slam matches - and unflattering 6-30 strike rate when she loses it - the tiebreak shaped as pivotal for Stosur.
Alas, Stosur squandered 3-0 and 5-3 leads in the breaker - both times when she was serving - and conceded the set on a scorching forehand winner from the fearless Czech.
As in the first set, Stosur had to fight back from love-40 to hold her opening service game of the second set.
But the reprieve served as merely a stay of execution, with Kvitova grabbing the decisive break in the sixth game and then holding to love for 5-2.
Kvitova then calmly closed out the match to leave Stosur's fourth-round showings in 2006 and 2010 as her best efforts from nine visits to Melbourne Park.