Following their semi-final clash in Hobart, Australian seed Samantha Stosur and Klara Zakopalova will meet once again in the opening round of the Australian Open. The World no. 17 leads the head-to-head series 3-2 but will be short of confidence after losing to the Czech player 6-3, 6-2.
While Stosur’s first semi-final on home soil since 2005 did not go her way, it was certainly a better start to her season than the past couple of years and should add to her confidence heading into the Australian Open. Stosur is currently ranked at No. 17, her lowest ranking since 2008, but still the No. 1 Australian female and the only seeded local in the women’s draw. In her 12 appearances in Melbourne, Stosur has never gone past the fourth round and will be hoping that 2014 is the year she manages to beat her career-best showing.
World No. 37 Klara Zakopalova lost only five games in her semi-final victory over Stosur, playing with exceptional vigour and intensity, with clearly troubled the Australian throughout the match. The No.7-seed had lost the last three meetings to Stosur in straight sets but this time was all over the Australian, breaking serve five times during the match en route to her 13 WTA final. The contest was far from ordinary as Stosur needing a medical timeout after the warm-up when she suffered a bleeding nose. She had her blood pressure taken by the tournament doctor, eventually taking the court after a delay of around 10 minutes.
“I’m so happy I beat a player like Sammy – she’s a Grand Slam champion, so for me it’s a big victory here. I was leading 2-0 in the first set very fast and then it got to 2-all, but I just said to myself to keep going for every point. It was a tough draw and I knew she’d have the crowd behind her but I just knew I had to give 100% and we would see if it was enough or not.”
Zakapalova would lose to Spain’s Garbine Muguruza in the finals the following day, brining her record in WTA finals to 2-11.
The two athletes have met five times on the professional tour, with Stosur leading the series 3-2. This is the third time they meet in the Australian Open, with Stosur winning the two previous Grand Slam contests in 2007 and 2009. Prior to her loss last week in Hobart, Stosur had won the last three encounters against the Czech and will likely extend her lead if she comes into this match on form.
Prediction: Sam Stosur in Three Sets