Samantha Stosur Delays Singles Retirement With Brilliant 1st Round Victory

Sam Stosur 2022 Australian Open
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Three weeks ago, Sam Stosur announced she was retiring from tennis in 2022. The 2011 US Open champion would have her singles swan song as a wild card at the Australian Open before playing one last season on the doubles circuit. When the Aussie legend took to Kia Arena on Tuesday for her first round match against Robin Anderson of the U.S.A.f, it seemed destined to be her farewell. Stosur’s last singles win had come on February 9th, 2021, and she had lost in the first round at eight straight tournaments coming into the Happy Slam. Against all odds, the 37-year-old turned back the clock to stun Anderson 6-7(5) 6-3 6-3 and postpone her singles retirement until at least Thursday. Here’s how she did it:

Sam Stosur Produces Vintage Win to Advance

First Set

Emotions were running high for Stosur as the match got underway, and it showed. She opened three break points in the opening game on Anderson’s serve, but failed to capitalize. Buoyed by her opening game escape, Anderson broke in the next game before holding at love to make it 3-0.

With the match looking set to be a blowout defeat for Stosur, the hard-hitting Aussie found her footing to hold at love and get on the board. A marathon seven-minute game ensued, Anderson saving yet another break point to increase her lead to 4-1.

After a nervy hold in the sixth game, Stosur finally made use of a break point in the seventh. On her fifth chance of the match, the World No. 487 broke Anderson to get back on serve at 4-3. Easing into her serving game, Stosur delivered two aces to hold for 4-all.

With the score at deuce in the pivotal ninth game, Stosur unleashed a brilliant forehand winner down the line to get within one point of a 5-4 lead. Three straight unforced errors followed, and the Aussie was left to lament over a wasted opportunity. All was forgotten quickly though, as Stosur pulled herself together to produce a 90-second blitz of a service game. Back on level terms.

Anderson responded with a love-hold of her own, keeping the pressure on the 37-year-old home favorite. The American proceeded to go up 0-30 on Stosur’s serve and even got to set point at 30-40. Somehow, Stosur managed to reel off three straight points and force a tiebreak.

An early mini break helped Anderson race out to a quick 5-1 lead in the breaker. The World No. 169 then fended off a mini comeback from Stosur to win 7-5 and take the first set.

Second Set

Things got off to a bumpy start for Stosur in the second set. Down 30-40, the Aussie used her flat groundstrokes to outmuscle Anderson and hold for 1-0. Inspired, motivated, Stosur broke her opponent’s serve with her second chance, making it 2-0 in her favor.

The pair exchanged comfortable holds until 5-3. What followed was one of the most spectacular games of either player’s career. First, Anderson earned her two break points (her first of the set), going up 15-40. Two un-returnable serves from Stosur leveled the score at deuce. Anderson got a third break point, but Stosur saved it it with yet another ace. A fourth break chance was wasted by Anderson as she made a horrific unforced error.

Stosur came out victorious in a nine-shot rally at deuce number three to earn her first set point. Anderson fought back to deuce. A seemingly endless cycle came next, with three further Stosur advantages erased by a heroic Anderson. Experience eventually prevailed, however, as the veteran Stosur served two consecutive aces to earn and then convert her fifth set point.

A 12-minute game (and 49-minute set) ended with deafening cheers from the stands and a trademark Stosur roar. Score leveled, game on!

Third Set

Once again, Stosur ran into trouble early in a set. And once again, she served her way out. Down 0-1 and serving at deuce, the former World No. 4 sent two service bombs down on Anderson to make it 1-1. She broke serve immediately afterwards to put her nose in front for the first time in the match.

The celebrations were short-lived, however, as Anderson broke right back. The series of breaks continued when a flurry of Anderson errors helped Stosur to a 3-2 lead. In scintillating fashion, the Aussie consolidated her break with a hold at love.

Stosur’s confidence didn’t waver for the remainder of the match, as she kept her cool to go up 5-3. A depleted Anderson then made several unforced errors, going down 0-40 in the decisive game. A furious 22-shot rally on match point ended with a brilliant volley from Stosur. Anderson’s outstretched racket found the ball but sent it well wide.

On a day when most pundits wrote her off, when fans were preparing for a goodbye, Samantha Stosur played her best tennis to defeat a player ranked 318 spots above her on the world rankings. It was nothing short of a miracle, and yet, with a player like Sam Stosur, it was never off the table.

The age-defying Aussie faces 10th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second round. Stosur will be a massive underdog once more. But there’s no telling what this woman can do. Maybe, just maybe, she’ll delay her retirement by a couple more days.

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