Samantha Stosur has endured a new form of Australian Open heartbreak as she slid to defeat against Serbian former world No.1 Ana Ivanovic.
Stosur’s 6-7 (8-10) 6-4 6-2 third-round loss in Rod Laver Arena on Friday night made it 12 times in as many attempts that she has fallen short of the quarter-finals in her home grand slam.
But it was the first time the 2011 US Open champion has lost a match at Melbourne Park after winning the opening set.
It leaves Casey Dellacqua, who reached the fourth round earlier on Friday, as the only Australian still standing in men’s or women’s singles.
Ivanovic, a 2008 Open finalist and the 14th seed, has now reached the last 16 for the third straight year.
The Auckland Classic winner will take an eight-match winning streak into her clash with world No.1 and tournament hot favourite Serena Williams.
Stosur, who has reached the fourth round just twice, in 2006 and 2010, fought hard to try to equal that mark and break Ivanovic’s streak.
She needed seven set points to claim the dramatic opening set, which stretched to more than an hour-and-a-half, including a 27-minute rain interruption at a crucial stage of the tiebreak.
Stosur looked to have clinched the set much earlier, when Ivanovic was called for a double-fault on the first set point against her, at 3-5, but successfully challenged the call.
The Australian served for the set in the next game, in which she had three more set points, but all were saved by clinical Ivanovic winners.
Some soft forehand errors by Stosur helped Ivanovic to three set points in the tiebreak, but the Australian lifted her game to save them all, before squandering a fifth of her own.
She was handed a sixth just as heavy rain started falling, causing the delay while the roof was closed.
Ivanovic subsequently saved that set point, before Stosur finally clinched the set on her seventh chance moments later.
It seemed a pivotal moment, but the match quickly swung the Serb’s way.
Ivanovic broke serve in the fifth game of the second set.
And while she needed two set points to serve out that set, the Australian helped her out on the second of those with a wild forehand error.
The momentum swung even more firmly the Serb’s way when she won eight of the first nine points of the deciding set to race to a 2-0 lead.
While Stosur tried desperately to break back, when she netted a forehand to drop another service game and fall to 5-2, it was effectively all over and Ivanovic served out the match in style.
Ivanovic said the clash with Stosur had been her toughest of the tournament so far.
“She played well tonight and served extremely well and I just hung in there,” the Serb said.
But she added she would have to take her game to a higher level to have a chance of upsetting 17-time major winner Williams.