Sam Stosur overturned a losing 9-0 head-to-head record to finally beat Maria Sharapova in an intense match, 6-1 7-5. The first set was closer than the scoreline suggested, but Stosur won the key points and played a solid set of tennis against a visibly rusty Sharapova. Sharapova raised her game in the second set, but looked short of match play as he wasted three break points at 3-0. Stosur took full advantage of this as she got herself back in the second set.
There were some really tight games at the end of the second set; Sharapova fought hard to 5-4 and Stosur then at 5-5. Once again, Stosur showed her remarkably improved mental game as she fought off the pounding Sharapova strokes. It must be said how improved Stosur’s backhand is and just like against Serena Williams in the US Open final, the backhand slice caused Sharapova many problems.
Sharapova blinked at 5-5 with a wayward game to hand Stosur the chance to serve the match out. As to be expected, Sharapova came out swinging and earnt herself a number of break points. However Stosur held strong with some excellent serving and managed to get across the finish line for one of the biggest wins of her career. Sharapova will have to regroup as she takes on Li Na tomorrow and will hope to continue to improve over the week. Li Na has caused her problems in the past, but she is way short of form so this could be a chance for Sharapova to get off the mark.
I must say how refreshing it was to see a packed crowd for day 1! I really enjoyed the first day of the YEC and felt that the last two matches were very entertaining and I hope for more of the same tomorrow. I also have to make a point on the Eurosport commentary – I really wish we would get more of Sam Smith. I think she is an excellent commentator and really knows her stuff. On the other hand, i’m finding Simon Reed particularly frustrating to listen to!!!