NEW YORK, NY, USA - It was about as dramatic a finish as one could get but Sam Stosur finally put an end to the breakthrough run of Laura Robson at the US Open on Sunday, needing nine match points to close out the Brit, 64 64.
Robson had made a sensational run in Week 1, taking out Kim Clijsters and Li Na to become the first British woman in the second week of a Grand Slam since Sam Smith at Wimbledon in 1998; and her momentum seemed to be continuing as she went up an early break on Stosur in the first set on Sunday.
But Stosur's heavy, aggressive game found its range from there, as she broke back to take the first set and built a hefty 5-2 lead in the second. Robson wasn't done just yet - she saved five match points in that 5-2 game, two more at 5-3 down and another at 5-4, but it was ninth time lucky as Robson missed a forehand, sending the No.7 seed and defending champion into the quarters.
"I thought it was a good match - I thought I played pretty well," Stosur said. "Towards the end there she probably stepped it up another gear when I had those match points, and I couldn't quite get them, but it was a really good match, definitely one I maybe needed going to the quarters here."
"It feels like Sam makes you feel you're playing badly because she hits it with so much spin," Robson said afterwards. "Her serve is really special. It's hard to get it back. I've never played anyone with a serve like hers before, so it takes a couple of games to get used to. I had a lot of opportunities I didn't take."
Stosur was asked about the match points. "Out of the, what, nine that I missed, I didn't do too much wrong on at least half of them. So that being the case, you just have to take it for what it is. Okay, it's another point. And you're hopefully going to get another chance if you keep doing what you should be doing.
"If you're not doing the wrong things, you can't get too down on yourself."
Robson was still very pleased with her fortnight. "It's been a good tournament for me," she said. "I can take the fact that I'm up there with the top girls in terms of level. I had two really, really great wins. Going into my next tournaments I can take a lot of confidence into them, and try to play as well as I did here."
Stosur has now won 11 matches in a row at the US Open, seven to win her first Grand Slam title here last year and four to get to the quarterfinals this year.
Next for Stosur is will be No.1 seed Victoria Azarenka, who continued to dominate her section of the draw, beating Anna Tatishvili, 62 62. Azarenka has lost just 10 games en route to the quarterfinals, having won her first three matches by lopsided 60 61, 62 62 and 60 61 scorelines, respectively.
Azarenka is through to her first US Open quarterfinal, this being the only Grand Slam she had not been to the quarters of previously - she had done it twice at the Australian Open, twice at the French and three times at Wimbledon.
Azarenka has beaten Stosur in all six of their previous meetings, and in straight sets too - but then at the same time, Stosur has been known to lift her game against No.1s - she has two wins over them in 2010, Serena Williams at the French Open and Caroline Wozniacki at the WTA Championships.
"I have not done well against her in the past," Stosur said. "I think there's a few things I've learnt over those last few matches. Hopefully I can put all those into play and have a better match. I look forward to that opportunity again - I think quarterfinals of another Slam, you've got to give it everything you've got."
Azarenka had a special guest in her post-match press conference, someone who had actually been in Stosur's player box several matches this past week.
"I'm just a big tennis fan. I think it's going to be a great match," said Redfoo of LMFAO fame. "I'm really looking to see who has the better shuffle. I'm going to work with her on her shuffle - her left foot goes a little rogue sometimes.
"The shuffle actually came from tennis. I don't know if you guys know, but it comes from the split step and the recover. When you hit a forehand and cross over. That's really what I'm looking for. I'm looking for the footwork, to see who I'm going to put in my next video. Honestly, that's why I'm here."
"It's going to be kind of like an audition," Azarenka added.