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Stosur Collapses; Maria and Venus Book Third Round Showdown at AO

Australia's Sam Stosur lost in a dramatic second round battle in Melbourne. Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams booked easy passage into a third round meeting.

By Erik Gudris

Sam Stosur (January 16, 2012) -- While many will continue to debate if nerves, the "never say die" play of her opponent, or both were the ultimate cause of Sam Stosur's crushing second round defeat, the match itself easily became the most talked about moment so far at this year's Australian Open.

Taking on a familiar foe in China's Zheng Jie, Stosur looked confident in her opening service game and looked poised to perhaps win in straight sets. But mid-way through the set, a series of shanked forehands and serves indicated a tightness in Stosur's game as she surrendered an early break.

Up 5-4, Zheng herself showed she was feeling the moment on Rod Laver Arena as she let seven set points go begging, one that included a 28-shot rally won by Stosur. But it was Stosur who blew an easy volley on the eighth set point to give Zheng a 6-4 advantage.

After Zheng called for an injury time out to have her knee retaped, it was Stosur who looked the fresher of the pair. Stosur earned an early break and started finding her range on her forehand side. Up 5-1, Stosur held easily to love to close out the set.

The final set opened with both women trading service breaks until Stosur fought back from 0-40 down to hold for 3-1. Later, an unlucky net cord for Zheng followed by her hitting a groundstroke long gave Stosur what appeared to be an unsurmountable 5-2 lead.

But Zheng refused to wilt and continue attacking Stosur's serve followed by forays to net. Stosur was broken serving for the match at 5-2, and then again at 5-4. Tension and a look of panic settled onto Stosur's face as Zheng moved ahead 6-5, forcing the Aussie to serve to now stay in the match.

The final game proved a cruel test of nerves Stosur couldn't pass as she double faulted on match point to give Zheng the 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 victory.

When asked later if Stosur lost the mental game on court, she replied. "Oh, I think it's a hundred percent.  I think, yeah, that's what it was. I got tight and then you start missing some balls.  You probably think a little bit too much. You do it over and over and over again, and then, yeah, you start not wanting to miss rather than wanting to, you know, make the winner. Instead, it's I don't want to make the error."

"In the final set 2 5, I was thinking first time I played in center court is 2006," said a happy Zheng afterwards. "I thinking, how many times I can play like this court?  I need to keep fighting and enjoy the match.Yeah, just too simple. It's amazing I can come back."

Maria and Venus Book Third Round Meeting as Seeds Advance

No. 2 seed Maria Sharapova continues her dominating form as she enters the third round without having dropped a single game as she dismissed Japan's Misaki Doi 6-0, 6-0.

Next up for Sharapova is No. 25 seed Venus Williams who herself has also been impressive in her last two matches. Williams took care of France's Alize Cornet 6-3, 6-3 to set up the showdown with Sharapova.

"I don't think I'm really going into it with a different mentality except really focusing on what I'm doing with the ball," Williams said about the match with Sharapova. "That's pretty much it. I mean, for me, I know I'm not the highest seed, so I realize I'm probably going to have to play someone and someone is going to have to play me.  That's pretty much what it is."

Other seeded players who advanced included Agnieszka Radwanska, Angelique Kerber, and Li Na. Serbians Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic both needed three set victories to set up a third round match against each other.

No. 15 seed Dominika Cibulkova, No. 23 seed Klara Zakopalova and No. 30 seed Tamira Paszek all lost in second round action. Paszek fell 6-2, 6-1 to young American Madison Keys who made the third round of a Major for the first time in her career.

Tomorrow sees the return of No. 3 seed Serena Williams after her dramatic fall in her first round match. Williams did practice indoors and is expected to compete against Spain's Garbine Muguruza.


(Photo Credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve)


 

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