Monday, 18 January 2016

Stosur's normal exit

For Kristyna Pliskova, the first round of the Australian Open was an interesting prospect.  She was to play the second night match on Rod Laver Arena on Day one against Australia's highest ranked player Samantha Stosur.  A tough task considering the Czech player, identical twin sister of the Fed Cup star Karolina, is only ranked 117 and Stosur has been a top ten player and won the US Open in 2011.

However Pliskova may have been blessed with this draw because of Sam's disastrous record in the Australian Open over the years, losing early every time and often to players with little reputation.

From the outset of this clash, it was clear that the big serve of Pliskova would be one of the problems to be addressed by Stosur.  The inconsistency of the Australian also contributed to a rough start, with no impression on the Czech serve and a fifth game full of loose ground strokes assisting Kristyna to achieve the first service break.

A better Stosur showed up to contest the following game and this version displayed a power game which was too much for Pliskova and games were 3-3.
Kristyna was totally confused when Sam quickly reverted to loss of control of basic shots and reduced herself to a miserable 0-40 from which she could not be rescued.

An apparent groin injury to Pliskova interrupted play and gave hope to the Australian, but only fleeting as Kristyna consolidated the situation at 5-3 with solid serving.
Sam served well to be at 4-5 and pressure Pliskova to serve for the set.

With the serve still a weapon, Kristyna indeed completed the job and happily placed the first set in her tennis bag 6-4.  Samantha's Aus Open demons were present tonight and an exorcism was urgently required.

The players exchanged comfortable holds of service then broke each other's serves and it was 2-2 in the second.  Stosur then took the lead 3-2 after a long struggle through a number of deuces on her serve.  Pliskova squared things once more with excellent serving returning to her skill set after a brief vacation.

Pliskova smashed Stosur's next service game to lead 4-3 and Sam wasted a range of break back points in the eighth game, with the serve again helping the Czech player out of danger.  5-3 and almost there.

Stosur lifted her level of tennis and for the second time held serve to force Pliskova to serve for the set and also the match.  An obviously nervous Kristyna fell to pieces and Sam vacuumed them up, winning the game and levelling the set at 5-5.

Now with the momentum, Stosur confidently held serve to lead 6-5 and the tie break only arrived after Pliskova stumbled through her next effort at the line.  A set point to Sam was saved in the process.

The tie break was always in favour of Pliskova and when she served an ace for 4-2 things looked precarious for Sam.  Moreso when Kristyna grabbed the next point as well.

Sam fought hard and even dragged it back to 6-6, saving two match points.  Nothing would prevent Pliskova from prevailing though and with the next match point she brutally delivered an ace.

Kristyna Pliskova joined the growing club of players to disappoint Sam Stosur early in an Aus Open 6-4 7-6 (6) 

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