Tennis

Stosur scuttles Serena's campaign

Samantha Stosur outplayed Serena Williams to enter the French Open semifinal.

Samantha Stosur outplayed Serena Williams to enter the French Open semifinal.  

Samantha Stosur of Australia wrecked the Grand Slam hopes of Serena Williams on Wednesday, outplaying the World No.1 and top seed 6-2, 6-7(2), 8-6 in a thrilling Roland Garros quarterfinal. And fourth seed Jelena Jankovic got past Yaroslava Shvedova in an error-strewn match.

It was an accomplished performance from the 26-year-old Gold Coast resident who firstly contained the power hitting of the American and then left her gasping with an array of savvy stroke-making.

She could have finished it in straight sets, getting to within two points of the match on serve at 5-3 in the second, but allowed Williams back into the match before stunning her in the decider.

The win put Stosur into the Roland Garros semifinals for the second straight year, equalling her best ever performance in a Grand Slam tournament, and confirmed that she now belongs among the elite in the women’s game.

For Williams it was the end of her dream of becoming the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1988 to achieve the calendar year Grand Slam.

Williams had not looked at her best in reaching the last eight but with the sun once again gracing the Philippe Chatrier centrecourt she was favoured to overpower the Australian seventh seed.

The top seed had the better of the early exchanges and Stosur had to stave of two points in the fifth game before taking a 3-2 lead.

What happened after that stunned Williams as Stosur used her slice to take the pace off the American’s groundstrokes and then stung her with angled drives to both flanks.

Stosur rattled off four games in a row to take the first set, clinching it by breaking the Williams serve to love.

The Australian was comfortably holding her own serve and in the second game of the second set she had three more break points at 0-40 only for Williams to claw her way back.

A further break point to Stosur two games later saw Williams pull out a timely big first serve before getting to 2-2.

Williams hung on grimly in the second set despite an alarming number of unforced errors and double faults but at 4-3 to Stosur, the American finally caved in looping an easy backhand wide on the third break point against her.

Stosur got to within two points of the sealing the biggest win of her career at 5-3 and 30-30 but some typical aggression from the American kept the tie alive.

That seemed to do the trick for the top seed and tournament favourite and suddenly it was Stosur who was hanging on.

The ensuing tie-break was one-way traffic as a fired-up Williams romped ahead from the first point eventually taking it 7—2.

The third set opened with an exchange of breaks after which serves were well on top until 5-4 for Williams when two bad mistakes from Stosur set up a first match point for the American.

The Australian saved this by forcing Williams into hitting a forehand long and she then levelled at 5-5.

Williams had further chances to put the match away but it was Stosur who grabbed the vital break of serve to lead 7-6 and she confidently served the match out.

After Jankovic overcame an early break to

Pay back

The 22-year-old Shvedova, the World No.36, had stunned Jankovic in the second round of the US Open last year and even in her two defeats to the Serbian, she had gone down fighting, stretching her opponent to three sets.

She was quickly ahead on Wednesday with a break in the opening game on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

However, the fourth seed settled into a steady rhythm and broke back for 3-3 before wrap up the first set, the players exchanged breaks in the opening four games of the second set as errors piled up on both sides.

Shvedova handed back the break in the eighth game when she missed a simple overhead.

The incident was typical of the 91—minute affair that Jankovic clinched victory when her Russian-born opponent served up a fourth double fault.

Federer loses

Robin Soderling gatecrashed Roland Garros for the second successive year on Tuesday as the free-swinging Swede sent Roger Federer spinning to a shock defeat.

Twelve months on from condemning four-time champion Rafael Nadal to his first loss in Paris, Soderling again unleashed his sledgehammer forehand to beat the World No.1 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 in the quarterfinals.

It was Federer’s earliest Grand Slam exit in six years and Soderling’s first triumph over the Swiss in 12 meetings, including the final here last year.

Soderling’s win brought to an end Federer’s record run of 23 successive Grand Slam semifinal appearances, stretching back to his third round defeat to Gustavo Kuerten here in 2004.

It also set up a semifinal clash against Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic who eased past Mikhail Youzhny of Russia.

Federer, who saw 14 aces and 19 forehand winners from the Swede sap his spirit, said he had let his chances slip away, but paid tribute to his opponent.

“I’m disappointed to a certain degree. I didn’t think I played a bad match so it’s easier to go out this way,” said Federer. “The conditions were really rough, but he came up with some great tennis.”

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 2:35:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/Stosur-scuttles-Serenas-campaign/article16240581.ece

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