In the form of her life and with an inviting draw, Samantha Stosur has been presented with a golden opportunity to add a French Open crown to the US Open title she won in 2011.
Stosur’s Roland Garros love affair continued on Tuesday, with Australia’s last remaining hope boldly brushing aside world No.6 Simona Halep to end a four-year grand slam quarter-final wait.
In a match which was stretched out over three days due to repeated rain delays, Stosur, a finalist in 2010, wound back the clock with a brutal display to take the fourth-round clash 7-6 (7-0) 6-3.
And Halep believes if conditions stay the same, as they are forecast to do for the rest of the week, Stosur has the game to go all the way.
“If the courts stay like this she has a chance to go till the end, in my opinion,” Halep said.
“She played really well today, and her ball was heavy today, heavier (than normal).
“(The conditions were) good for her.”
Having dispatched the past two beaten finalists Stosur will now face Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova for a semi-final berth.
Stosur owns a 3-1 head-to-head record over the world No.102, who came from a set and a break down to eliminate world No.2 Agnieszka Radwanska 2-6 6-3 6-3.
Despite toppling two high seeds Stosur says she won’t be taking her foot off the pedal on Wednesday – but admits she can take confidence from her historical dominance.
“I know certain things that are going to work very well against her,” Stosur said.
“(But) she’s made quarters of a grand slam before and had big wins in her career.
“You can’t take anything lightly (although) it looks like a good matchup.
“Playing a confident player in the quarters of a slam is never easy no matter what your record is.”
Victory there would set up a semi-final showdown with either world No.108 Shelby Rogers or fourth-seeded Spaniard Garbine Muguruza.
The stunning upset lands Stosur in her fourth quarter-final at Roland Garros, following a 2010 final appearance and semi-final runs in 2009 and 2012.
It is her first grand slam quarter-final appearance since the US Open in 2012.
And it was built on a blistering start on Tuesday, when Stosur took out her frustrations of a two-day rain delay on the world No.6.
In a 39-minute burst, before rain again halted play, Stosur wrested control of the match from her younger, more-fancied rival – coming back from a break down to take the first set before taking the advantage in the second.
Following a brisk hold of serve, Stosur pounced on Halep serve with crushing forehands to level the first set at 5-5.
In the tiebreak, she truly came alive, sweeping her more-fancied rival in devastating fashion to win it to love.
Halep struggled to cope with Stosur’s powerful groundstokes and was routinely forced into error, while the Australian’s serve also caused the Romanian problems.
Stosur continued the onslaught into the second set, earning the crucial break in the opening match to have Halep well and truly on the back foot before rain halted play with Stosur up 3-2 and about to serve.
After a further two-hour-and-forty-minute delay, Stosur picked up where she left off and didn’t stumble until she squandered four break points when ahead 4-2.
However, following a quick hold, Stosur put Halep under pressure once again – and this time her rival cracked, sending the first of two match points long from a wild volley to hand Stosur her spot in the final eight.
HOW THE AUSTRALIANS FARED ON TUESDAY AT THE FRENCH OPEN (PREFIX DENOTES SEEDING):
Women’s singles, fourth round
21-Samantha Stosur bt 6-Simona Halep (ROM) 7-6 (7-0) 6-3