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Stosur clears "hardest hurdle"


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She knows one swallow doesn’t make a summer, but that didn’t stop Samantha Stosur from breathing a big sigh of relief after progressing to the second round of the Australian Open on Monday.

Just three days after suffering a straight-sets hiding from Klara Zakopalova in Hobart, Stosur exorcised some demons with a hard-fought 6-3 6-4 victory over the dangerous Czech at Melbourne Park.

Lumped with the burden of being Australia’s only seed in this year’s singles events, Stosur rallied from 4-1 down in the second set to advance after one hour and 32 minutes battling temperatures in excess of 30 degrees in Rod Laver Arena.

“It’s a relief,” Stosur said. “The first hurdle is quite often the hardest.

“To come out and play, play a pretty decent match, I’m very pleased obviously … very happy to get through and obviously rectify what happened a few days ago. First one’s down.

“It doesn’t mean I’m looking further ahead. I have to focus on this next match and take my second round just as seriously, just as importantly.

“That’s what I’ll do.”

And so she should.

The world No.17’s atonement set up a second-round confrontation on Wednesday with Tsvetana Pironkova, the in-form Bulgarian who racked up eight straight wins – including three top-10 scalps – en route to the Sydney International title last week.

Heatwave conditions of more than 40 degrees are forecast for Wednesday, but Stosur isn’t swaeting.

“I don’t usually struggle in the heat, so that’s fine,” she said.

“I practised here through December. There was some pretty hot days in Sydney. Got through those all right.

“Tournament play is always that little bit different. If you do all the right things, try to stay hydrated, look after yourself, hopefully by the time you get out on court, you won’t have any problem.

“Touch wood, that will be the same for me.”

The 2011 US Open champion dropped serve four times against Zakopalova, but was delighted to have only made 18 unforced errors in a vastly improved showing from her loss to the world No.32 last Friday.

“I knew she was going to hit some winners, she was going to play some really good points,” Stosur said.

“I also knew if I didn’t have a shot and I kind of stayed in there, used my slice, I didn’t think she liked too much in Hobart, then I was going to be able to get myself back in the point even if I was down.”

Stosur was among three Australians to have won first round matches in the Australian Open at Melbourne Park on day one.

Earlier, fellow Australian Casey Dellacqua beat Russian former world No.2 Vera Zvonareva in straight sets and Matthew Ebden won a five-setter against Frenchman Nicolas Mahut.

World number one Serena Williams handed Australian teenager Ashleigh Barty a straight sets defeat 6-2 6-1.

Men’s defending champion Novak Djokovic won his first round match, but women’s stars Petra Kvitova and Venus Williams are both out of the tournament.

Player of the day: Swiss prodigy Belinda Bencic, at 16 the youngest player in the draw, knocked out the oldest, 43-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm.

Stat of the day: Jarmila Gajdosova took her sorry Australian Open record to none from nine with a first-round loss to German ninth seed Angelique Kerber.

Key moment: Samantha Stosur saving break points in the ninth game of the second set of her 6-3 6-4 win over Klara Zakopalova.

Quote of the day: “It’s a relief.” – Stosur after turning the tables on her Hobart conqueror of three days earlier.

Summary: In a great start for the Australians, Casey Dellacqua and Matt Ebden joined Stosur in the winners’ circle. Most of the big names won comfortably, but veteran men’s 12th seed Tommy Haas retired injured and former women’s world No.1 Venus Williams and Italian seventh seed Sara Errani lost.

Women’s singles, round 1:

Casey Dellacqua bt Vera Zvonareva (Rus) 6-2 6-2

Jarmila Gajdosova lost to 9-Angelique Kerber (Ger) 6-3 0-6 6-2

17-Samantha Stosur bt Klara Zakopalova (Cze) 6-3 6-4

Ashleigh Barty lost to 1-Serena Williams (USA) 6-2 6-1


Men’s singles, round 1:

Matthew Ebden bt Nicolas Mahut (Fra) 6-3 7-5 4-6 0-6 6-3

Jordan Thompson lost to 20-Jerzy Janowicz (Pol) 1-6 4-6 6-4 6-2 6-1

Sam Groth lost to 28-Vasek Pospisil (Can) 6-4 6-3 6-4

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