Cirstea Beats Stosur, Kvitova On A Mission
Published January 17, 2012 12:00
MELBOURNE, Australia - Petra Kvitova and Maria Sharapova absolutely blazed through their opening matches at the Australian Open on a hot and windy Tuesday. The next-highest seed to play wasn't as fortunate.
Kvitova, the No.2 seed at the first Grand Slam of the year, fired five aces and needed just 61 minutes to beat Vera Dushevina, 62 60, while Sharapova, the No.4 seed, had it easier, taking 58 minutes to beat Gisela Dulko, 60 61.
"It was a pretty tough first round opponent, someone who beat me the last time we played at a major. I'm also coming into my first event of the year," Sharapova said. "She can definitely play some really good tennis. I was just mentally prepared for that. I was getting ready and have been practicing here. I played pretty aggressive - she has great hands and likes to have time to create her shots, so I had to take that from her. I thought it was good for a first round.
"We know each other's games really well. We grew up together in the juniors. She's actually one of the few players I played doubles with in my so-called short term doubles career. I know the quality she can produce."
Kvitova and Sharapova are two of the four women still in the running for the post-Australian Open No.1 ranking - Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka are the other two, and they both won their first round matches in straight sets as well. Sam Stosur and Agnieszka Radwanska were previously in the running.
Stosur, the No.6 seed, was the first big casualty of the fortnight, losing to Sorana Cirstea in a flurry of unforced errors, 76(2) 63. Stosur, who had won both of the pair's previous meetings routinely, offset 12 winners with a whopping 33 unforced errors - she showed some fight at the end, staving off three match points, but three forehand errors in a row from the Australian sealed her fate.
"It's a big win but I'm staying with my feet on the ground because I went on the court with no pressure - she had all the pressure," Cirstea said. "Now things are going to change. Now people are going to expect me to win my next match. But I'm just going to try and enjoy today and prepare for my next match."
"Obviously I'm extremely disappointed. There's not any other word for it but total disappointment," Stosur said. "Sorana hung in there and kept going for it and eventually got better and better. I think she played a very, very good match. You have to give credit where credit's due. But I think maybe I didn't step up."
Stosur was the fourth straight Grand Slam champion to lose early in the next one - Kim Clijsters lost second round at the French Open, Li Na lost second round at Wimbledon, Kvitova lost first round at the US Open, now Stosur.
"We all saw what happened last year and now I've gone through that same trend. I don't know why," the Australian added. "At least for the other girls, it was tournaments straight after. I struggled the couple of weeks after the US Open then finished well at the WTA Championships, had a month off, then trained for a month. I don't know... I'm sure if we could all change the way we've responded straight after winning a Grand Slam, we would have."
Cirstea's win over the No.5-ranked Stosur was her second win over a Top 5 player, her first also coming at a Grand Slam - she beat then-No.5 Jelena Jankovic in a fourth round marathon at the French Open three years ago.
Other seeds making it into the second round earlier in the day were No.14 seed Sabine Lisicki, No.15 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, No.17 seed Dominika Cibulkova, No.23 seed Roberta Vinci, No.25 seed Kaia Kanepi and No.27 seed Maria Kirilenko. Kanepi beat Johanna Larsson, 62 64, to improve to 6-0 on the year - she went 5-0 to win Brisbane two weeks ago.