MELBOURNE – Local favourite and sixth seed Sam Stosur became the highest ranked player to crash out of the Australian Open first round, eliminated on Tuesday by Romanian player Sorana Cirstea (7-6; 6-3), according to Eurosport. “There’s not any other word for it but a total disappointment,” Stosur said, fighting back the tears at times. “It’s not through lack of trying or not wanting it or anything like that. That’s sport. Unfortunately you can’t pick and choose when it’s all going to happen for you.”
Cirstea, who reached the quarter-finals at Roland Garros in 2009, found the lines with her looping forehands to keep Stosur on the back foot and was ruthless when she came into the net.
The 21-year-old sealed the victory on her fourth match point when Stosur went long after 91 minutes to leave Australia’s search for a first women’s champion since Chris O’Neil in 1978 almost certainly destined to continue for another year. “It’s a big win but I’m keeping my feet on the ground because I know today I went on the court with no pressure, she had the pressure,” said Cirstea. “I had nothing to lose. So I think that kind of made me just go out there and enjoy it.”
World number two Petra Kvitova took a little bit of time to get warmed up in the blistering Melbourne heat before demolishing Vera Dushevina 6-2 6-0 in just over an hour to advance to the second round. Kvitova next plays Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro, who beat Romania’s Irina Begu 6-1 7-5.
In other games: Alexandra Dulgheru – Vera Zvonareva 6-7; 7-6; 4-6; Alexandra Cadantu – Roberta Vinci 0-6; 1-6; Monica Niculescu – Alize Cornet 7-5; 0-6; 3-6.Argentinian Gisela Dulko forced the rusty Maria Sharapova into a string of errors and ran out a 6-2 3-6 6-4 winner.
Sharapova, however, was not prepared to stay on court any longer than necessary in the intense heat, breaking Dulko’s next two service games and surviving a trio of break points when serving for the match to complete the win.
Djokovic kicks off in style
Novak Djokovic stayed cool in the heat to kick off his Australian Open title defence with an emphatic 6-2 6-0 6-0 victory over Italian journeyman Paolo Lorenzi.
The Serbian, yawning under the sun at Rod Laver Arena, stumbled early with a break to trail 2-1, but rattled off 17 straight games to seal the match in 92 minutes. Djokovic, the 2008 and 2011 champion, will face Colombia’s Santiago Giraldo in the second round.
Radek Stepanek was the only seed to be defeated in the top-half of the draw, the 29th ranked Czech going down 7-5 7-5 6-3 to Nicolas Mahut.