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Sam Stosur


Deja vu is one thing, but drawing the same opponent in the first round at the same Grand Slam three times in seven years surely qualifies for Groundhog Day status.

That was the scenario facing 17th seed Sam Stosur and Klara Zakopalova when they entered Rod Laver Arena together for the third time since 2007 on Monday afternoon.

After losing to Zakopalova in the Hobart International semifinals last week, Stosur vowed to avenge that loss.

"I know how I want to play and be aggressive and try to hit winners, there's going to be some errors. You [have] got to keep that ratio going the right way," said Stosur in the lead-up to the first-round match.

And to Stosur's end, she did turn the result around on Monday – a 6-3 6-4 victory – even if it wasn't always the 2011 US Open champion's most convincing tennis.

And when she looks at the stats she should be relatively happy with what she sees – 19 winners and 18 unforced errors.

In all, there were 24 break-point chances during the match – 10 for Stosur and 14 for Zakopalova. Stosur converted seven, Zakopalova just four.

One of those breaks came in the first game of the match as Stosur jumped out of the blocks quickly and confidently.

Stosur's serve was working well early, but the same couldn't be said of Zakopalova, who landed just 50 per cent of first serves. At times, she couldn't buy a first serve.

Consecutive double faults from Zakopalova handed the local favourite a 4-3 lead midway through the first set.

It was all Stosur needed to close out the first set in 36 minutes.

While Stosur had her serve, Zakopalova had her forehand, which she cranked up early in the second. The Czech looked her most dangerous when moving forward, putting pressure on Stosur, particularly on the backhand side.

If Zakopalova's game plan wasn't already clear, it crystallised in the second set as she attacked the Stosur backhand time and again. The ploy worked for a while as, suddenly, the 17th seed found herself trailing 3-0.

A frustrated Stosur yelled at herself to "stop pushing it" after sending another ground stroke wide.

But just as Zakopalova appeared to have Stosur's measure, the Australian slipped under her guard and worked her way back into the set.

With the sun beating down on Rod Laver Arena, Zakopalova started to wilt. The Czech sought refuge in the shade between points and started to slow down, while Stosur took the conditions in her stride.

The Australian sprinted to the tape from there, as she reeled off the next five games to close out the match and move through to the second round. Waiting for her will be either Apia International Sydney champion Tsvetana Pironkova or Spaniard Silvia Soler-Espinosa.

Rod Laver Arena - Women's Singles - Round 1
S.Stosur AUS (17)

Monday, 22 December 2014
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