BIRIMINGHAM, England (AP) - Former U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur achieved the foothold she needed in her first match since falling within sight of a notable victory against Maria Sharapova at the French Open last week.
Stosur, who is seeded to reach the final of the Aegon Classic this week, won her opener 6-1, 6-3 against Christina McHale of the United States, moving well on the lush grass and looking buoyant despite her Paris disappointment.
The Australian quelled an American fightback, which carried McHale to within a point of 4-all in the second set, by delivering three good first serves just at the most risky moments.
Stosur suggested she may have conquered her emotions as well, after wasting a set lead to Sharapova in the fourth round. ''It's a bit of a weird feeling, because I was so close and then I lost nine games in a row. What happened?'' she said of the Sharapova setback.
''After a couple of days thinking about it, I realized I did play a very good tournament, probably the best for a few months. But, yeah, you still think, `Wow, that's an opportunity kind of gone by.'''
Stosur's response is trying not to be too hard on herself, nor expecting to respond with the best tennis she has ever played, and focusing on day-by-day steps to the final.
She is seeded for a final on Sunday with Ana Ivanovic, the former world No. 1 from Serbia. First, though, she has to get past a meeting tomorrow with her Aussie compatriot Casey Dellacqua before a potentially difficult quarterfinal.
That would be against either the titleholder, Daniela Hantuchova, or the amazing 43-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm.
The former Wimbledon semifinalist from Japan saved a match point in a dramatic 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7) win over Monica Puig of Puerto Rico.
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