Ivanovic, Bouchard & Kerber Advance
Published January 17, 2014 12:13
On Friday evening, Stosur made another dramatic exit from her home major, coming out on the wrong end of a three-set rollercoaster with 2008 runner-up Ana Ivanovic.
In recent years, Stosur has struggled to find her best tennis in front of her adoring public, but there was no sign of stage fright in the opening exchanges on Rod Laver. The Australian struck first, breaking with a hard-hit forehand pass at 3-3, and looked to have the set in the bag when she served for it two games later.
What followed was a passage of play unlikely to be topped - in terms of tension, at least - this fortnight; at 5-4, Stosur was broken after holding three set points before returning the favor in the tie-break to turn a 6-3 deficit into an 8-7 advantage. Then the rain came.
By the time the roof was closed, nearly half an hour had passed, and it was Stosur who handled the untimely interruption the better, closing out the set on their return with a confident forehand winner.
Instead of dwelling on her missed opportunities, Ivanovic decided to take the match by the scruff of the neck. Stepping inside the baseline, she began timing her returns beautifully, hitting winners almost at will. Two such shots helped her claim the decisive break at 2-2, and despite a near-hiccup when serving for the set she eventually forced the decider.
From there, it was one way traffic. The Serb, now brimming with confidence, broke for a 2-0 lead and soon after closed out a 67(8) 64 62 win with one final, effortless forehand winner.
"I thought it was a great quality match today," Ivanovic said. "I'm just really happy after losing the first set to still stay composed and play some good tennis and win.
"It was a very exciting match I think for everyone. It was such a high level of tennis from the first moment on. The crowd was really into it. I got into it, too, and I enjoyed it."
While Stosur's dream is over for another year, Casey Dellacqua is still flying the flag for the home nation. After a few years in the singles wilderness, Dellacqua has been in inspired form this week, and showed no sign of running out of steam during a 62 64 win over Zheng Jie.
Six years ago Dellacqua also reached the fourth round, but believes she is better prepared for the experience this time around.
"It feels great to be back here. Obviously I made the fourth round here in '08," Dellacqua said. "I definitely feel like a different person, different player at this point in my career.
"When I made it in '08, it was such a whirlwind. It was like a bit unexpected, it was, 'Whoa.' I didn't get much time to take much of it in. That year was a bit crazy."
Standing between her and the quarterfinals will be Eugenie Bouchard, who continued inexorable rise with a 62 62 win over Lauren Davis. Also advancing in the top half were Angelique Kerber, Ekaterina Makarova and Flavia Pennetta.
Kerber, a runner-up last week in Sydney, continued her impressive start to the season by overcoming Alison Riske, 63 64, while Makarova defeated Monica Niculescu, 64 64, and Pennetta overcame Mona Barthel, 61 75.