Melbourrne – Former world number one Ana Ivanovic set up a fourth-round clash with Serena Williams Friday after coming from a set down to crush local hope Samantha Stosur.
The glamorous Serb, who won the warm-up Auckland International, showed glimpses of her former best to beat the Australian 6-7(8/10), 6-4, 6-2 and ruin Stosur's home Grand Slam.
Stosur has gained a reputation for choking under the pressure of playing in front of her home crowd, and she once again threw away a lead.
She has never gone beyond the fourth round at Melbourne Park in 12 attempts.
“It was a match of the highest quality. She is a very tough opponent and I just hung in there,” said Ivanovic, who has never revisited the highs of 2008 when she won the French Open and made the Australian Open final.
“The conditions were hot and I am very happy and thrilled to get through. Winning in Auckland gave me a lot of confidence and I'm looking forward to the challenge of playing Serena.”
Now working under a Serbian coach in Nemanja Kontic, 14th seed Ivanovic, in her 10th straight Australian Open appearance, proved too hot to handle for Stosur.
The first six games went to serve as they traded shots from the baseline.
The match was finely poised until Stosur worked her way to a break point in the seventh, drawing Ivanovic to the net where she miscued a volley.
The Australian then held to love, with her booming 185 kilometre per hour serve proving a handful.
Stosur, backed by a vocal home crowd, was starting to push the equally popular Ivanovic around the court, creating openings.
The gutsy Serb, who was enjoying playing a night match on Rod Laver Arena, was forced to save a set point in the ninth and recovered to hold serve.
She saved another four sets points on Stosur's next serve then silenced the crowd by breaking back to level the match at 5-5 with a deft shot down the line.
It went to a tiebreak and Ivanovic had a 6-3 lead but lost the next four points and eventually the set, after the players came back following a rain break when the roof was closed.
An Ivanovic forehand down the line gave her a break to take a 3-2 lead in the second and she held on to take the set and even up the match.
The Serb was on fire and immediately broke Stosur again in the deciding set, holding off an assault from the Australian to break again and serve out for the win. – Sapa-AFP