Samantha Stosur cursed herself on match-point but had no regrets as she went down swinging in her latest frustrating home tournament failure.
So often overcome by local expectations, Stosur again stumbled out of the blocks at the Brisbane International on Monday, giving up a break in the final set, to fall to world No.7 Garbine Muguruza.
But it wasn’t due to an attack of nerves or failing to handle the pressure as the two heavy-hitting baseliners slugged out a captivating two hour 45 minute affair at Pat Rafter Arena before Muguruza pounced to win 7-5 6-7 (2-7) 7-5.
In a replay of last year’s French Open semi-final, Stosur fought back superbly after losing the opening set to gain control, only to lose it again against the fourth-seeded Spaniard.
It was the Queenslander’s third first-round exit in seven appearances in Brisbane, where she’s never passed the second round, but it was among her best performances at home as she played with aggression.
The chief frustration was succumbing after being poised for victory at 4-2 up in the third, before losing her serve as the French Open champion attacked and turned the momentum.
Stosur cursed after she hit a simple forehand passing shot into the net on match point – continuing a seven-match losing singles streak stretching back to the second round of the US Open.
“I think today I played much, much, much better than what I played at the end of last year,” she said. “So there’s lots of positives to take from that.
“I’m really pleased with the way I played and competed and what I was able to do out there
“I want to be that aggressive player.”
The 32-year-old, the oldest player in the tournament, was also left to rue missing three set points in the opener, as Muguruza reeled off eight of the next nine points.
Stosur called for new coach Josh Eagle at the break and the advice worked as she upped her aggression and went on to dominate the second-set tiebreaker and then broke immediately in the third.
Muguruza was highly relieved after scrapping her way back into the high-quality match.
“I think she played very well today,” the Spaniard said. “She served like a beast. My spirit was at the maximum level.
Muguruza’s victory continued the success of the women’s seeds on day two of the tournament as Svetlana Kutznetsova, Roberta Vinci and Elina Svitolina also enjoyed first-round wins.
Sixth-seeded Svitolina cruised past Olympic champion Monica Puig 6-3 6-3 to set up a second-round clash with American Shelby Rogers.
World No.9 Kutznetsova also had little trouble in swatting aside American Louisa Chirico 6-2 6-4, while Italian Vinci was pushed hard by qualifying lucky loser Kateryna Bondarenko 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5).