Melbourne – Sam Stosur finally got a win at the Australian Open Monday to ease some of the building pressure after first-round flops in Brisbane and Sydney this year.
The ninth seed and top local hope of tennis-mad Australian fans advanced, but not before a battle with Taiwan's Chang Kai-chen, finally prevailing 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 in 1hr 42min.
It was relief for the 28-year-old after her miserable start to the year and broke a run of five consecutive losses on home soil, including a first round exit at the Australian Open in 2012.
Asked if it was the most pressure she had faced in the first round of a Grand Slam tournament, she replied: “I don't know, I wasn't thinking of it like that before I went out there.
“Of course, I mean, I desperately wanted to win out there today, but didn't necessarily feel it any more than, you know, my first rounds in Grand Slams.
“From here hopefully I can loosen up a little bit and keep playing better and better.”
The 2011 US Open champion's confidence rose after pocketing the first set as she served out the match against the Taiwanese, ranked 86 in the world.
“I think having gone through I'm really pleased that I didn't let that lead go and find myself back at even terms,” she said.
“So it was good to get out of that set and then really kick it on from there.”
Stosur has never gone beyond the fourth round at Melbourne in 10 attempts, sparking criticism that she can't take the home pressure.
“People get asked what their opinion is and they say it and it comes out there. I mean, it's fine. You know, everyone is entitled to think what they think,” she said.
“But of course I have got a group of people around me I trust all year round not just during the summer of the Australian Open.
“Maybe some people had valid points, but at the end of the day, I'm always going to go back to who I know and who I trust the most.”
She next faces China's Zheng Jie. – Sapa-AFP