Success in a 12th appearance at Wimbledon was always going to be a challenge for Sam Stosur, who has advanced beyond the second round of the All England Club just twice.
At this year’s Championships there was the added complication of a recent split with coach Miles Maclagan and the challenge intensified even further when she encountered a blistering Yanina Wickmayer in the first round. At the end of a 69-minute battle, it was the 69th-ranked Belgian who emerged the 6-4, 6-3 victor.
Forced to play catch up after dropping serve in the opening game, Stosur was unable to gain an edge against the determined Wickmayer, who was supported by the sidelines from Grand Slam-winning countrywoman Kim Clijsters.
“It wasn’t a very good start, for sure,” said Stosur, the No.17 seed. “But I actually didn’t feel like, apart from trying to play that little catch up with a break behind, I felt like I was playing quite well.
“I served very well ... having that break of serve right at the start, for her to get that lead (with that break of serve) obviously frees her up a little bit. I thought she played very, very well.
“I don’t feel like I played that bad a match to be honest with you.”
Indeed, there were many glimpses of Stosur’s damaging forehand and her 13 aces highlighted the serve that’s regarded as among the most potent in the women’s game. But neither were enough in a match that Wickmayer described as “one of the best I’ve played this year”.
Advice from Clijsters might have helped as the Belgian successfully targeted the Stosur serve, with the critical breaks occurring in that first game and in the sixth game of the second set. After a brief revival from Stosur, who gained her own service break to stave off defeat three games later, Wickmayer secured victory with a final break in the 10th game.
“I felt really confident out there, and tried to really focus on being aggressive from the first point when she served,” she explained. “I tried to be aggressive on the second serves, and when I had the chance I tried to move in and move forward and serve well myself.”
The evenly matched statistics – both players had 25 winners and Stosur registered just one more unforced error than Wickmayer’s eight – were a bittersweet reminder of what might have been for Stosur, who was frustrated that yet another appearance at the All England Club had ended early. Monday’s loss marked the sixth time Stosur has lost in the opening round, with her best performances being her third round appearances in 2009 and 2013.
“I’m pretty annoyed about it, to be honest. Yeah, I don't have an answer because, like I said, I do feel I played well; I think she played well and she stuck to it right from first point to last point,” Stosur said.
“She did well to carry that through, and nearly without a blip ... I still think I'm a good enough player to get through first rounds here, and for whatever reasons it's not happening.”
With Stosur’s immediate attention turning to Wimbledon doubles – she is competing in the women’s event with Flavia Pennetta and in mixed with Nenad Zimonjic – there is also a broader interest in who might become the Australian’s next coach. However she insists there is no rush.
“I want to really take my time and think about it and make sure I'm doing the right thing,” Stosur said. “I think I need to go out there, keep working hard, work on my own tennis, draw on what I do well, know what I need to work on, and do that day in, day out.”
Wickmayer, meanwhile, will hope to maintain form in the second round against 16-year-old Ana Konjuh and perhaps even replicate her best result at Wimbledon, when she reached the fourth round in 2011 as the 19th seed.
20:08It brings me no pleasure but it's time to bring the curtain down for another year. Seemed somehow appropriate to leave the last word to Roger Federer. Thanks a billion for reading. What a fortnight, what a final, fast forward to 2015 please...
20:03"I already have seven. It's not like I need another one. But it would have been awfully nice to have it. I think that's what the feeling was of the people, and I felt that... I know they love tennis. They love tennis after we're all gone."View all