By Jaclyn Stacey
(January 16, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Jie Zheng progressed through an error filled match against ninth seed Samantha Stosur in two hours and 42 minutes on Rod Laver Arena in day three action at Australian Open 2013.
Stosur served for the match in the final set with a 5-2 lead before mentally falling apart and double faulting on match point down to gift Zheng a place in the third round against Julia Goerges.
The 2011 US Open champion has struggled playing on home soil in the recent past, falling in the first round at Australian Open 2012 and never progressing past the fourth round in 13 appearances.
Stosur led their head-to-head 3-2 coming into the match but Zheng had defeated Stosur last week in Sydney to have the mental edge in the match.
Stosur had opportunities to break early in the first set but it remained on serve until Zheng secured the first break after a superb return game, hitting some sweeping cross court winners past Stosur to take a 4-3 lead. Stosur immediately broke back to level at 4-4 before she again lost momentum in the next game, Zheng regaining the break and serving out the set on her eighth set point opportunity 6-4.
After a tough first game hold Stosur picked up momentum and stormed to a 6-1 second set win to send the match into a third set decider.
Zheng won the final set and the match after Stosur failed to serve out the match while leading 5-2, losing the next five games.
In the post-match news conference Zheng spoke about the match and referred to the first time she played on Rod Laver Arena and her desire to keep playing the big matches there.
“In the final set 2-5, I was thinking first time I played in center court is 2006. I thinking, How many times I can play like this court? I need to keep fighting and enjoy the match.”
“Today I feel Sam Stosur is play much better for last week. Kick serve and the big forehand. Also backhand slice is give me the big trouble.”
“But today I try to play more aggressive. I try to go to the net, give her some pressure, yeah.
I think this is my coaches tell me give her some the pressure, and this way is for the key for
win this match.”
Stosur was disappointed following the match. “I mean, obviously it’s a pretty hard one to take when you get yourself well and truly into a winning position, yeah, playing really quite well. Then all of a sudden you get to 5-2 and you lose five games straight.”
Stosur has often had trouble holding on to momentum in matches and when asked whether losing the match was a mental thing she said “You know, unfortunately it was — it just kept happening point after point after point. You know, then crazy things start popping into your head, and before you know it, you’re back on even terms and really lost a lead that, you know, with two breaks in the third should never go away.”
Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.