Sam Stosur is carrying Australia’s singles hopes at the French Open as the last player from Down Under remaining in the draw, following Nick Kyrgios’ meltdown overnight.
Eleven Australian players in total featured – albeit briefly – in main draw action at Roland Garros, including six in the men’s draw (Nick Kyrgios, Bernard Tomic, Thanasi Kokkinakis, John Millman, Alex De Minaur) and five in the women’s (Sam Stosur, Daria Gavrilova, Ashleigh Barty, Ajla Tomljanovic, Jaimee Fourlis).
But Stosur and Kyrgios were the only two players to advance beyond the opening round. Stosur defeated Kristina Kucova 7-5, 6-1 in round one, followed by another straight-sets victory against the potentially dangerous Kirsten Flipkens 6-2, 7-6 (6). It was Stosur and Flipken’s first meeting on the clay surface, with Stosur winning 76 per cent of her first service points and striking 33 winners to edge the Belgian.
“I played pretty well,” Stosur said in her post match media conference. “I got myself in a bit of a hole in the second set but, to get through that one in straights, I’m very pleased. She’s a very tricky opponent. She can do a bit of slice, lob, running to the net.”
Stosur is now on track to face Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who ended Petra Kvitova’s comeback with a 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) win. Stosur and Mattek-Sand’s only prior meeting came at Wimbledon in 2009 with Stosur winning that battle 6-4, 7-6 (6), 6-2.
“I’ve got to play my next opponent no matter who it is. I know Bethanie is going to be tough as well,” Stosur said. “She’s in the third round, so she’s obviously playing well.”
Stosur is a former finalist at the French Open (2010) and reached the semi-finals for the fourth time last year. She also has momentum on her side ahead of this clash with Mattek-Sands after she claimed the Strasbourg Open title last week. Meanwhile, Mattek-Sands’ best result in Paris came in 2013 when she reached the fourth round. Since then she hadn’t won another main draw singles match at Roland Garros, until this week.
In the men’s draw Nick Kyrgios enjoyed a winning start to his campaign with a straight set 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-3 win over Philip Kohlschreiber. It then appeared as if Kyrgios was on track to book his place in the third round, as he went up set and a break against Kevin Anderson. However, that is when it all unravelled for the Australian.
From 4-2 up in the second set, Kyrgios went on to win just three more games in the match as his emotions got the better of him. Inconsistent serving plagued a frustrated Kyrgios – he destroyed two racquets and received a point penalty to start the third set. Ultimately he finished the match with an uncharacteristic nine double faults, winning just 66 per cent of his first service points, and 43 per cent of his second.
After he dropped serve in the fourth set he even asked spectators for some relief: “Get me a beer now,” he said. “Honest to God, get me one now.”
Kyrgios’ latest meltdown has once again caught the attention of his critics, after a performance reminiscent of his Australian Open collapse against Andreas Seppi. Following the match, Kyrgios referred to the difficult time he has endured since the passing of his grandfather in April.
“He (coach Sebastien Grosjean) knows that things have been difficult for me,” Kyrgios said. “But he knows first-hand that I haven’t put in enough work to have gone deep here. The whole team knows it. You know, and the surprising thing is I was in a winning position today and I still could have won.”
“It doesn’t even matter how underdone I was. I still could have won. We both know that I’ve just got to practise. During Indian Wells and Miami time, I was practising a lot. Yeah, I mean, after my grandpa passing, I just lost a lot of motivation to do anything, really.”
But while his singles run may be over, Kyrgios still remains in the doubles draw, partnering compatriot Jordan Thompson. They face Jan-Lennard Struff and Mischa Zverev in the second round tonight.
All of the action kicks off from 7pm AEST, with Stosur v Mattek-Sands scheduled as the second match on Court 3.
What are your thoughts? Can she continue her run at Roland Garros and keep Australia’s singles hopes alive?