Stosur, Hewitt Advance, Dellacqua Goes Home To Perth
January 23, 2010 -- Australians have lots to cheer about as two of their own forged their ways into the second week of this year's Australian Open: Samantha Stosur, the #13 seed, and Lleyton Hewitt, the #22 seed. Wildcard entry Casey Dellacqua lost to Venus Williams, although the Perth native kept her positive attitude throughout the match and tournament after recent shoulder surgery.
"It was just an absolute great experience again to be back out on Rod Laver and playing with the top girls," Dellacqua said. "Just to be back playing. It's just what I do and what I've known for my whole life really."
Samantha Stosur reached her stride, as the round of sixteen approaches. Stosur defeated Italian Alberta Brianti 64 61. Stosur served 11 aces and won 77% of first serve points, and converted 80% of points at net.
Known for her doubles titles -- 22 total -- she has always wanted to perfect her singles game. She went deep into several draws last year only to disappoint herself with erratic shot selection and execution, and unforced errors.
This year could be different for the laid-back Gold Coast resident who turned pro in 1999. She has reached her highest ranking, and senses she has reached her stride and is primed to move beyond the fourth round of a major, which she equaled here in Australia in 2006.
"The first couple of weeks I was not handling it the way I needed to," Stosur said after her match today. "Came into the Aussie Open and had that all done. Just had to get out there and play tennis. I feel like now I've gotten over that hurdle and am handling it all as I go through. It's all going pretty well."
Next up for Stosur is the defending champion Serena Williams, who also advanced today by defeating Carla Suarez Navarro.
Stosur and Williams met in the quarterfinals of the Bank of The West Classic, in Stanford, California, last summer. Williams dismissed and dissed Stosur publicly after their match, saying, "She had a lot of lucky shots. She's a good framer. But it's obviously all talent. She has mastered that."
However, Serena Williams said she didn't remember that.
"I don't remember saying that. She's a good friend of mine, so I like her a lot," Williams said. "I just remember I hit some great shots and she returned them back for winners."
Williams' memory, again, seemed cloudy about the facts. If they are such good friends, how could she have forgotten those cheeky comments?
Williams also denied her harsh diatribe against the linesperson who called a foot fault against her, as she struggled to get past Kim Clijsters in the semifinals of the U. S. Open last year. Her outburst cost her the match, kept the story in the news for months, and threatened to ban her from the Australian Open, if the Grand Slam Investigative Committee had determined such a sanction. In the end, Williams was slapped with a $10,000 fine for racquet abuse and another $82,500, the highest levy ever in a Grand Slam tournament.
Stosur is looking forward to their match on Monday, one day before Australia Day. She is confident. However, she knows the past is a done deal; it won't have much relevance when match time rolls around.
"Playing someone like Serena, you have to be on your game," Stosur said. "I'm going to have to serve well and take every opportunity that presents itself. As soon as I get that shorter ball at half sniff to do something, then I've got to do it."
Williams, on the other hand, admitted she needed to work on her return of serve because the Aussie serves great, as she put it. "She gets a lot of big, first serves. She definitely plays with a lot of power. I think that's cool."
Here's what would have been be ultra cool: if Serena had named the injury her 'good friend' Stosur suffered from in her career. Instead, Williams' memory seemed murky, once again. "I know she got injured and then she, um, came back playing even better."
Lleyton Hewitt vividly remembers that last time he beat Roger Federer, the Aussie's next opponent. It was the 2003 Davis Cup tie. Hewitt was down two sets and 2-5 in the third then came back to win the rubber, a monumental achievement he will never forget nor will his Davis Cup teammates.
Hewitt earned his berth into the round of sixteen this evening when an injured Marcos Baghadatis retired at 2-4 in the second set with an injured shoulder. Hewitt won the first set 6-0 in nineteen minutes, due in part to the injury and in part to Hewitt's execution. It was some of the best tennis of his career.
The Cypriot played a five-set marathon against Spaniard David Ferrer two days ago. Baghdatis's normally flawless forehand and ability to hit winners from every conceivable spot on a tennis court never materialized today. His timing was off. His radiant smile was missing and missed by fans.
"I was feeling the pain when I wanted to hit the ball on the impact," Baghdatis said to the press. "When you do that, then you stop moving. You stop -- everything goes wrong because you're just thinking about the pain and not the forehand and the serve."
Hewitt was one happy Aussie, after his victory.
"I took it up another notch tonight," Hewitt said. "I hit the ball as well as I have hit it in a long time. I served great. I moved great. It's not gonna be easy against Rog. I'll be ready come Monday."
Hewitt has lost the last fourteen matches against Roger Federer, not to take away from the veteran's grand comeback in the Davis Cup coup. The Aussie, who goes by the nickname Rusty, joked that to beat Federer he would have to win three sets before Roger does.
All jokes aside, Hewitt's coaches and a couple of the Australian legends have suggested that Lleyton become much more aggressive.
"I just hope for Lleyton that he doesn't pull back like he did in Sydney against Marcos Baghdatis where he had a set and a break," John Newcombe was quoted as saying in The Herald Sun's online sports news today.
If Lleyton Hewitt played clean tennis today, then Roger Federer's tennis would have to be characterized the same.
"I thought it [the match] was dominated from my side with my serve, which allowed me then to take chance of the return. It was a pretty straightforward match, really. I don't remember him having any break points," Federer said.
Alberto Montanes, Federer's defeated opponent, didn't have any break chances in the three set victory: 63 64 64. If he had, they probably would have been recorded as none converted. Federer's serve was sharp. He served 66% for the match, which is enough to pressure any man on across the net.