Stosur Ends Kerber's Dream Run In Semis
Published September 10, 2011 12:00
NEW YORK, NY, USA - Samantha Stosur kept her historic run at the US Open alive on Saturday night, beating Angelique Kerber in three sets in the semifinals to become the first Australian to make the final of the tournament since 1977, before it even moved from Forest Hills to Flushing Meadows.
Ranked No.92 in the world, Kerber had become one of the least likely Grand Slam semifinalists in the Open Era, beating Agnieszka Radwanska and Flavia Pennetta along the way. But would she be able to overcome her 0-10 record against Top 10 players against No.10-ranked Stosur on Saturday?
Stosur, seeded No.9, was sharper on the big points early on in the match, converting the only break point of the first set en route to taking it, 6-3. Kerber's backboard-like strokes helped her rebound for a 6-2 second set, but Stosur's aggressive game came alive again as she won the first five games of the third set and eventually closed it out, 63 26 62, finishing it off with a volley winner.
"The first few games were too fast for me. Everything was new for me, so many people and the lights," Kerber said. "I found my rhythm and played my game, tried to be aggressive, and it worked well, but then it started going fast again in the third set. There were some close points but she was playing very well."
"This was my third Grand Slam semifinal. It was a good thing to have in my back pocket, playing someone who's never been there before," Stosur said. "The second set did go by pretty fast for me. I went off court and tried to settle down, and just think about my gameplan from the first set and do it again. I knew I had to try make some subtle changes and get a good start in the third."
It has been an historic fortnight for Stosur. Her third round win over Nadia Petrova lasted three hours and 16 minutes, the longest recorded women's match in US Open history; in the fourth round she played the longest women's tie-break in Grand Slam history, 17-15, although she did lose it (she eventually beat Maria Kirilenko, 62 67(15) 63). "There have been some obstacles to get through and to come through the way I have, I'm really proud. Getting through tough matches in the third and fourth rounds is definitely very pleasing."
Now, Stosur is the first Australian woman to reach the US Open final since Wendy Turnbull in 1977, the last year the tournament was held at Forest Hills. Only one Australian woman has won the US Open in the Open Era - Margaret Court (who won this tournament three times, in 1969, 1970 and 1973).
"Australia has a great history in tennis, men's and women's. Since it has gone into the Open Era, it's even more competitive. To be in the same round as those guys who were able to win and make Grand Slam finals, I can't describe it."
Stosur will be playing in her second Grand Slam final, having finished runner-up in her first to Francesca Schiavone at the French Open last year. "It would be an absolute dream come true," Stosur said of the prospect of winning a Slam. "It's great that I have a second chance now. I'll definitely go out there and give it my best shot. I know it will be extremely difficult - but this is what you play for. I'm happy I've given myself another opportunity to win a Grand Slam.
"It would obviously be the highlight of my career."
Kerber was still thrilled with her performance here, and rightfully so - she shattered her previous best Slam results, two third rounds, and she will shoot from No.92 to inside the Top 35 when the new rankings come out Monday.
"It was a great tournament for me," lamented the 23-year-old Kerber, who told reporters a day before her goal was to reach the second or third round. "I won five matches here. And also the week before I got to the semifinals of Dallas.
"I was really trying to come back in the third set today, I tried everything I could. But I enjoyed it, and in the end it's one of the highlights of my career."
What's next for Kerber? "My schedule was to go to Asia for five weeks now, but I think first I'll go home and take some days off. Then I'll start to practice and go to Tokyo, Beijing and maybe one more tournament, then holidays."