Tue June 26, 2012 6:11pm
SAM STOSUR provided a rare bit of hope for Australian fans on day one at Wimbledon.
The US Open champion, who has been bundled out in the first round of the past two Championships at the All England Club, producing a solitary win before male contenders Lleyton Hewitt and Bernard Tomic take the court tonight.
Three other Australians lost in the opening hours of the tournament, with Anastasia Rodionova overpowered by number one Maria Sharapova 6-1 6-3 while Jarmila Gajdosova and Marinko Matosevic fell to much less intimidating rivals.
Gajdosova, who has slipped from world No25 to 76 over the past year, could tumble out of the top 100 after going down 6-4 6-3 to Japanese trier Akio Morita, ranked 85.
And Matosevic, Australia’s second-highest ranked male after No20 seed Bernard Tomic, complained that a cold or flu had him feeling dreadful during his lacklustre and erratic effort against Belgian veteran Xavier Malisse, who is ranked three spots below Matosevic’s 72 but had little trouble dismissing him 6-2 6-2 7-5.
Stosur was the one reliable Australian competitor on a day when the first-round straight-set exits of five-time champion Venus Williams and 2010 finalist Thomas Berdych, seeded sixth, reminded everyone that reputations and rankings guarantee nothing on court.
Stosur enjoyed her sharpest ever start to a Wimbledon tournament, raising hopes she might overcome the biggest weakness in her grand slam record.
The world No5 swept aside Spanish clay court specialist Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1 6-3 and just as importantly moved with a confidence and flair she has rarely shown on the grass of southwest London.
Stosur had won only five matches in nine previous campaigns at Wimbledon, an atrocious record for a US Open champion and French Open finalist whose game is not as unsuited to grass as her poor record on the surface suggests.