Stosur turns back clock with Brisbane win over Kerber

  • Alex Sharp

Australia’s Sam Stosur sent out a signal of intent for the 2020 season with a 7-6(5) 7-6(4) triumph over three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber at the Brisbane International.

The German had won their past four encounters and progressed to at least the quarterfinals on all five previous trips to Queensland.

However, 2011 US Open champion Stosur put in a spirited display in front of home fans to launch 33 winners past Kerber and chalk up a memorable victory.

While Day 1 of the Brisbane International included a clash of major champions in Stosur v Kerber among an impressive order of play, Day 2 promises to be even more thrilling when Grand Slam winners Naomi Osaka, Petra Kvitova, Sloane Stephens and Maria Sharapova all take to Stadium Court on Tuesday.

Stosur was thrilled to take her place in the second round in Brisbane for the first time in four years.

“This is sort of the way I want to be all the time on court and I put more pressure on myself than anyone could ever do, because I know what I'm capable of,” an elated Stosur said.  

“So sometimes, I probably want it all too bad, but today I certainly feel like I did stay relaxed and composed. 

“I'm very, very happy with that win over Angie. It's probably my first Top-20 win in a little while.

“I really was clear with what I wanted to do out there and executed my plan really well, stuck with it, and kept that clarity. And to get a win out there was amazing. It was a great feeling.”

Stosur’s reward is a clash with either No.8 seed Madison Keys or qualifier Marie Bouzkova and she’ll be joined in the second round by a Fed Cup teammate.

Ajla Tomljanovic earned a duel with world No.2 and defending Brisbane champion Karolina Pliskova following her 6-2 4-6 6-4 passage past compatriot and fellow wildcard Priscilla Hon. 

Meanwhile, Danielle Collins put in a ruthless display to dispatch fourth seed Elina Svitolina 6-1 6-1, racing into the second round in just 56 minutes.

The American was an Australian Open semi-finalist in 2019 and replicated similar form in Brisbane by claiming 18 of the last 21 points and chalking up a second career Top 5 victory. 

That one-sided affair contrasted with the Stosur-Kerber duel, during which Stosur led 5-2 in the first set only for the German to reel her in.

"This is sort of the way I want to be all the time on court... I put more pressure on myself than anyone could ever do, because I know what I'm capable of."
Sam Stosur

Kerber, under the guidance of new coach Dieter Kindlmann, forced the opening set to a tiebreak and roared 5-1 into the ascendancy, before Stosur unleashed a barrage of shots to steal away six straight points and the opening set. 

Neither player was able to break in the second set and another tiebreak was required to separate the former major champions.

Stosur continued to deliver brave shotmaking and squeezed past the former No.1 to record a first win over Kerber since May 2015.

Earlier on Monday Barbora Strycova defeated seventh seed Johanna Konta 6-2 3-6 6-3 to surge into the second round.

The Czech, having won both of their previous encounters in straight sets, was quick out the blocks to force Konta into a succession of errors with resolute defence. Strycova was able to absorb the pace from the world No.12 and cruised through the opener.

Great Britain’s Konta, playing her first match in four months, added more punch on the return and managed to force a decider. However, Strycova broke to love in the first game to seize the initiative and close out the hard-fought triumph.

Last season’s ‘Most Improved Player of the Year’ Sofia Kenin carried her form into 2020 with an opening-round 7-6(1) 6-4 victory over Latvian Anastasija Sevastova.

The world No.14’s reward is a second round clash with either Australian Open champion Osaka or Maria Sakkari