Top seed Samantha Stosur has called on all her fighting abilities to down Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic in a heartstopping third-set tiebreaker in the second round of the 2014 Hobart International.
Stosur saved two match points in the tense conclusion before converting a second match point of her own for a gritty 6-4 2-6 7-6(7) win today.
“Any win’s a good win but when you’ve got to really tough it out and battle through a long match … if you’re winning 7-6 in the third you’re probably holding your nerve pretty well,” Stosur said.
Stosur, the world No.17, came into the match with only a scrappy three-set win over qualifier Madison Brengle from four matches this season.
The 2011 US Open champion said she’d improved with each match since losing all three at the Hopman Cup, and she showed that against the massive forehand firepower of the tall Mladenovic.
Stosur was broken in the first game of the match but then broke Mladenovic twice to lead the first set 5-3.
The 20-year-old Frenchwoman broke again for 5-4 but her serving let her down and a double fault gifted the set to the Australian.
Mladenovic got the early break again in the second and led 5-2 before clinching the set with an ace.
Stosur broke early to lead the third 2-0 but was immediately broken by Mladenovic and in a tense set both players held until the nailbiting decider.
“Midway through that second set it actually felt like things were coming out a little bit cleaner, a little bit more solid,” Stosur said. “I actually felt better about things but I lost it 6-2.”
“I think the third it was probably the best tennis I’ve played this week.”
Stosur came close to admitting she got out of jail against Mladenovic, saving one of the tall Frenchwoman’s match point with a miraculous backhand that caught the line.
“I think I played two really tough points, maybe hit that slice backhand in by a couple of centimetres but that’s what it takes sometimes,” Stosur said.
The Australian progresses to the quarter-finals, where she will meet eighth seed Bojana Jovanovski.