Chinese revelation Zhang Shuai has apologised to Samantha Stosur for eliminating her doubles partner and Australia’s big women’s hope from the US Open in New York.
Zhang ousted the 2011 champion 6-3 6-3 in just 70 minutes to end Stosur’s grand slam season and continue her own fairytale run.
As Stosur pointed out pre-match, Zhang was “the story of the Australian Open” after storming to the quarter-finals having been none-from-14 at majors before arriving in Melbourne in January.
Now the 27-year-old is headed for the top 50 – at least – after powering into the last 32 at Flushing Meadows for the first time.
“Before the match I didn’t think I could beat her because she was a champion of the US Open and she has very good serve and very good spinning forehand,” Zhang said.
“It’s very tough to play her. She beat me in the French Open so this gives me a lot of confidence.”
But it was Stosur’s famed forehand that proved her undoing, with the 16th seed committing 30 errors on her favoured wing.
“She’s my best friend. It’s very tough to play against (a) friend,” said Zhang, who will reunite with Stosur on Friday bidding to make the third round of the doubles as well.
“She helped me a lot since I was a low ranking. I feel so sorry for her.”
Stosur started brightly enough, holding her first two service games comfortably before conjuring a break point for the opportunity to take a 3-1 lead in the opening set.
But she missed the chance, then lost three games straight to suddenly be 5-2 down and on the back foot.
Zheng faltered trying to serve out the set, only for Stosur to gift her friend a third break with a wild forehand that sailed over the baseline.
Stosur found herself in deep trouble when she dropped serve for a fourth time, from 40-15 up, to fall behind 3-1 in the second set.
There was no coming back, with Stosur’s exit leaving Nick Kyrgios as Australia’s last remaining player in the singles draws.