CINCINNATI, OH, USA - The first wave of second round matches took place at the Western & Southern Open on Tuesday, and one player in particular had to go the distance to move into the third round of the Premier-level tournament.
Samantha Stosur, the No.3 seed, was pushed for over two and a half hours by Anabel Medina Garrigues, winning the first set and getting to match point at 6-5 in the second set tie-break but losing that and having to go to a third; Stosur looked headed for defeat as she quickly fell behind 4-0 in the decider but there would be no funky ending for Medina Garrigues, as the Australian ground out six games in a row - four of which went to multiple deuces - to win, 63 67(6) 64.
"It was an interesting third set considering the whole match was really quite close," Stosur said after the match. "There were no breaks in the second set, and then straight away I got myself in quite a hole quite quickly. I thought I could still regroup and close that gap just a little bit, and if you do that, you never know what can happen. I got on a roll and managed to squeeze it out."
Stosur talked about the crowd's influence in pulling her through the match. "For sure you go back to grab your towel and you hear people saying come on you can do it, or hang in there, and it's a good feeling. When they're willing you on of course you try to play a little better and hopefully win the match."
In other matches, No.2 seed Serena Williams beat Eleni Daniilidou, 63 64; No.5 seed Angelique Kerber rallied from a set down to beat Timea Babos, 36 61 62, becoming the first player to win 50 matches this year; and No.8 seed Marion Bartoli hit 13 double faults and fell to Johanna Larsson, 64 62.
Though Williams was strong on serve, holding nine of 10 service games, she struggled somewhat on the return, converting only three of 13 break points.
"I had 44 unforced errors. That's shocking. It's unprofessional. Hopefully I clean up my act for my next match," Williams said afterwards. "She moved really fast and was getting everything back. It was good for my upcoming matches."
Could her hair have been a distraction during the match? "I need to calm it down. It's really big," she commented. "It was a little windy, so it was getting in my face, and I put it in this '80s scrunchie I happened to have. The look isn't new. I've just let it go super natural and super crazy and not care. It's fun."
Williams has now won 35 of her last 36 matches, a stretch that has brought her five titles - including her 14th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon and her very first Olympic gold medal in singles. Needless to say, she's on quite the roll.
But the WTA legend has never conquered Cincinnati - or has she?
"I've won this tournament. I have. When it wasn't this big. But it counts," Williams said when told in her press conference this is one of the biggest tournaments she has never won. "I did win this tournament, didn't I?
"Maybe I didn't. I can't keep up. I don't think I did. Okay, whoops. Yeah, I didn't win this tournament. I thought I did. I really thought I did.
"See, I have something new to do now!"
Williams did have a sentimental run here in 2006 though, making her comeback from a six-month injury lay-off and making the semifinals on these courts.
"I had a great comeback here. I was down and came here and beat the No.1 seed at the time, Myskina. I have great memories here. That really propelled me to start my career over again. I came back here and kept going and kept going, and eventually I started winning my Grand Slams again. It was a great time for me. I have so much support here in Cincinnati. You have such great fans and great people here. The midwest is filled with people with wonderful hearts.
"It's a great place. I love it here."