Samantha Stosur will square off with former world No.1 Ana Ivanovic for a likely shot at Serena Williams after enjoying a saloon ride through to the third round of the Australian Open.
Stosur thumped wounded Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova 6-2 6-0 in barely an hour on Wednesday night to advance to the third round at Melbourne Park for the first time since winning the 2011 US Open.
Pironkova had been on a nine-match winning streak, but was unable to challenge Australia’s 17th seed after taking a medical time-out for a leg injury after dropping the opening set.
Ivanovic, the 14th seed, was equally inconvenienced in her 6-1 6-2 rout of German Annika Beck and will pose a far greater threat to Stosur on Friday.
Stosur leads Ivanovic 4-3 head-to-head, but the Serb won their most recent meeting in three sets on an indoor hard court two months in Sofia.
The victor on Friday will almost certainly run into Williams, with the world No.1 yet to drop a set in her opening two matches and a hot favourite to beat veteran Slovak Daniela Hantuchova in her third-round match.
Pironkova was expected to trouble Stosur after entering their second-round contest in the form of her life.
The 25-year-old knocked over three top-eight stars in marching to the Sydney title from qualifying last week.
But the heavy workload of eight matches in nine days – plus a first-round victory in Melbourne – ultimately took its toll on the one-time Wimbledon semi-finalist.
Stosur broke her twice to take the first set in 39 minutes and then won 13 successive points at the start of the second.
The world No.57 must have known defeat was inevitable but gallantly played on, perhaps mindful that the Rod Laver Arena crowd were short-changed the previous night when Bernard Tomic retired after just one set with a groin tear.
Pironkova won only eight points in total in the second set before Stosur put her out of her misery after 64 uncomfortable minutes on court. Stosur finished with 23 winners to Pironkova’s five and said she was pleased to have been able to maintain her intensity from go to whoa.
“You could kind of tell she wasn’t moving so great and all that but, regardless of whether the trainer comes out, you don’t want to take your foot off the pedal,” she said.
“Look, I’ve played too many matches. Things can start going wrong when opponents call trainers, a little bit injured.
“I kept focused on what I wanted to do, kind of not let her have a foot in the door.
“If you can keep going and playing the way that you are and your opponent’s not feeling so great, it’s even easier to keep going.
“Whereas if you give them that little bit of a sniff, things can start going better, it can become a tight one.”
In men’s result’s last night, it was a match of missed opportunities for Australia’s Matthew Ebden, who blew an Australian Open third round berth against injured Canadian Vasek Pospisil.
Ebden fell in four sets on Rod Laver Arena 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (11-9) 6-1.
The West Australian had a set point in the second set tiebreak and then another in the third set decider but failed to land both knockout punches and instead found himself down and out.
Pospisil struggled through the first set with a back injury, only landing 29 per cent of first serves.
Between sets the 28th seed took a medical time-out and had his back treated by a physiotherapist, and then again midway through the second.
The 23-year-old said post-match he considered pulling out before he loosened up with the help of some pain killers and ultimately played the big points better.
“I just tried to hang tough and overdose on pain killers and that seemed to help me a bit,” Pospisil said.
“I’m super thrilled to get through.”
He will play eighth seed Stanislav Wawrinka in the third round.
It continued a run of crushing losses for Ebden.
Last year at the Australian Open he had match point against world No.25 Mikhail Youhzny before falling in five sets. The year before, it was a similar lead blown against Japan’s Kei Nishikori.
HOW THE AUSTRALIANS FARED ON DAY THREE
Women’s singles, round 2:
Casey Dellacqua bt 18-Kirsten Flipkins (Bel) 6-3 6-0
17-Samantha Stosur bt Tsvetana Pironkova (Bul) 6-2 6-0
Women’s doubles, round 1:
Jessica Moore/Azra Hadzic lost to 11-Anna-Lena Groenefeld (Ger)/Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (Cro) 6-3 6-1
Jelena Dokic/Storm Sanders lost to Magdalena Rybarikova (Svk)/Stefanie Voegele (Sui) 6-4 6-4
Sally Peers/Viktorija Rajicic lost to Kaia Kenepi (Est)/Renata Voracova (Cze) 6-3 6-1
Monique Adamczak/Olivia Rogowska bt Darjia Jurak (Cro)/Andreja Klepac (Slo) 6-3 7-6 (7-2)
Men’s singles round 2:
Matthew Ebden lost to Vasek Pospisil (Can) 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (11-9) 6-1
Men’s doubles, round 1:
Pat Rafter/Lleyton Hewitt lost to Eric Butorac (USA)/Raven Klaasen (RSA) 6-4 7-5
Samuel Groth/John-Patrick Smith lost to 6-Marcel Granollers (Esp)/Marc Lopez (Esp) 6-4 6-4
Ben Mitchell/ Jordan Thompson bt Carlos Berlocq (Arg)/ Alejandro Gonzalez (Col) 5-7 6-3 6-4
Marinko Matosevic/Michal Przysiezny (Pol) lost to Colin Fleming (Gbr)/Ross Hutchins (Gbr) 6-4 4-6 6-0
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