Sam falls to Puig in AO opener
MELBOURNE, AAP – Sam Stosur on Monday lost control of her first-round match with Monica Puig to lose in three sets.
Stosur was a set and a break up against the reigning Olympic champion – even holding a match point in the second-set tiebreak – before falling 4-6 7-6(6) 6-4 in two hours and 20 minutes on Monday.
The defeat was her third successive first-round loss at her home Grand Slam tournament.
For the match’s first hour, Stosur was a picture of collectedness, serving strongly and working Puig with her heavy topspin game.
Stosur’s serve was a key difference; the Queenslander was scarcely penetrable, hitting 13 aces and firing plenty more that Puig found unreturnable.
It wasn’t until the eighth game of the second set that Stosur gave up her first break points.
From there, she unravelled. Stosur’s temperament changed noticeably after she was broken, appearing more anxious and talking to herself.
At five-deuce game at 5-5 was another turning point, with Puig denying Stosur several break points to hold serve before a tight second-set tiebreak.
The 33-year-old overcame an early mini-break to have a match point at 6-5, but played too tentatively, allowing Puig to level the match.
Stosur mis-timing a forehand terribly on the baseline to hand Puig a break and a third-set advantage.
Down 5-3 and facing elimination, Stosur held serve to love in a timely confidence boost.
Stosur put down the slice backhand and began hitting again, with a huge down-the-line effort that had those at Margaret Court Arena hopeful of a break to keep her alive.
But the former US Open champion didn’t win another point, as Puig held firm to book a second-round date with big-hitting Estonian Kaia Kanepi.
“It was an incredible fight … I want to congratulate the crowd for being such a great sport to Sam. She’s an amazing person,” Puig said to the parochial crowd after the match.
“I admire her so much. I was not even on the tour when I saw her playing. When she won her first Grand Slam I was rooting for her the whole way.”
“I’m very very sorry.”
Stosur won more points over the match – 99 to 98 – but didn’t have the composure in the key moments.