Pity having the weight of an entire country’s expectations on your shoulders. I really pull a lot for Samantha Stosur. She is a terrific player when she’s on, and seems like a nice person. But under the glare of playing in her homeland of Australia, she has woefully under-performed. She has played three tournaments in 2013, losing in the first round at Brisbane and Sydney, and now being ousted in the 2nd round of the Australian Open. Yes, Zheng Jie has always been a tough match-up for Samantha, beating her at both Sydney and Melbourne, but there is a larger problem here. The loss at Sydney was her 5th straight loss playing in Australia, now up to 6 losses in her last 7 matches down under. This 2nd round Aussie Open exit follows a 1st round dismissal last year. She has never advanced past the 4th round in Melbourne. I watched this match live and even when Stosur served for the match at 5-2 in the third, and then again at 5-4, I knew Zheng Jie wasn’t out of it if she could just stay in it and wait for Stosur’s nerves to doom her. Bottom line, Samantha Stosur is a helluva player, far better than these results suggest. It’s difficult to believe the player who thoroughly outplayed Serena Williams to win the 2011 US Open can’t at least get to the quarters in Melbourne. But maybe she played relaxed in that US Open final, since everybody thought Serena was going to win anyway. So there wasn’t the same degree of pressure and expectation. I don’t know, really. I just hope before her career is over, she experiences the thrill of making a deep run at the Australian Open.
Ana Ivanovic narrowly avoided following Samantha Stosur out the door, finally outlasting Yung-Jan Chan, 7-5 1-6 6-4. It shouldn’t have been that tough a match, but it’s sports. Anything can happen. Just win. I am also a big fan of Jelena Jankovic, Ana’s countrywoman, whom she will play in the next round. However, for a long time they were not fans of each other. They both say maturity and playing together during Fed Cup has ended those old hard feelings. Oh, and before I forget…smashing play from Maria Sharapova. Two straight double bagel wins. I almost felt sorry for Misaki Doi watching that match.
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