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Stosur overcomes Na Li resistance to book final spot

This content was published 11 years ago. It may refer to a past edition of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

Sam Stosur kept her feet firmly on the ground after her 7-6(6), 6-0 win over Na Li which sees her through to her first final since the 2010 French Open. The first set was nip and tuck, with the Australian failing to serve out at 5-4 and then finding herself 5-3 down in the tie-break. Her determination and above all consistently enabled her to secure the breaker 8-6, with Li hitting as many unforced errors as winners, particularly early in the rally when patience would have been the better option.

Once Stosur has the first set in the bag, Li had little left in the tank. She carved out break points early in the second but failed to take them, and once she was 0-3 down, having twice failed to break Stosur’s serve, the die was cast and the Australian no.7 seed cruised to victory. “I think it happens a lot and not just this week,” said Stosur of the second set white-wash. “If you win a tight first set then it can be a real boost to that person who wins. For the other person that loses, you can almost feel the delusion and it is a big disappointment. I guess this is when you have to be tough enough to try and forget about it and start over again because obviously you have been playing well enough to get to a tie for set. Sometimes it is probably more of the mentality of going into the second set, because there must be something that’s been going okay to get to the tie-break and that does happen a lot in tennis, both men’s and women’s. It’s every player’s job to not let it happen but sometimes it does,” Stosur analysed.

This time last year, Stosur was a rising star who was about to make it through to her maiden Grand Slam final at the French Open, but since then while her star has not faded, she has been slightly off the boil. “I think there is a couple of things,” she said of the reasons why she had failed to reach a championship match since Roland Garros. “One is that it’s very competitive out on tour and just because you made one final does not mean to say that you going to win one every single week. I know the players do that and I was not able to.  But I think having lost the French Open last year, I did struggle mentally for a little bit and I was very disappointed. I had to look at the positive side because I had a very good tournament as well but at that time it is not always easy to see those things. I have played some good matches and tournaments in the past 12 months but I just was not able to get the last bit again so now that I am better I am excited to be there.”

Sam Stosur – Na Li: as it happened

1.31 pm: Sam Stosur defeats Na Li 7-6(6), 6-0 and earns herself a crack at the title! That second set was gone in 60 seconds, almost. Li shoulda, coulda won the tie-break but even in the early going in the second she was battling, taking Stosur to deuces and carving out a break point. Once she failed to break second time around and it was 3-0, it was as if she lost all self-belief. She won only three points on her own service all set, the Chinese world no.4 (as opposed to six on Sam’s service…) A shame that the second set was over so quickly but the first was a cracker.

1.26 pm: 5-0. Those early exchanges in the second set have taken the wind out of Nails’ sails and no mistake – it’s one-way traffic here.

1.20 pm: Break-hold-break to open the second for Sam and she suddenly is only three games from the final. She broke Li to 15, and then struggled on her own services, having to save a break point but she did so. Both Sam service games were tight with Li absolutely crushing her second services, but when it came to the crunch – the big points – Sam served first ‘uns and held.

1.08 pm: Sam takes the opener 7-6(6). She served out to love to force the breaker then was behind for most of it due to some incredible Li crosscourt winners. Then the Chinese no.4 seed froze, DFd, failed to take set point then Sam served a big ‘un on the T to take it 8-6. Li hits some Soderling-esque cross-court winners from both wings, often on the backhand when the ball is seemingly behind her and then she hits it crisply and with such accuracy that you would think she’s hitting off a tee. The winners look great, but it’s high-risk – when she makes an unforced error and sends one wide or long early in a rally, you want to say “Na, take your time, don’t try to hit a winner five shots into a rally!” Oh, the impetuosity of youth!

12.48 pm: Ooh, and then out of nothing, Na takes Sam to deuce, carves out her first break point then puts a good return on a second serve and it’s 5-5.

12.40 pm: 5-3. Na can’t get a read on Sam’s kicking services. And she’s in trouble on her own at the moment, deuces wild, serving to stay in the set and she’s just stared down to break and set points.

12.25 pm: 4-2 Sam, easily conserving her one-break lead with some strong first services.

12.15 pm: OK, we’re under way with the Chinese no.4 seed serving to open. Sam has won both their previous meetings, in straight sets to boot, including on the Stuttgart clay last year. Sam’s last three finals have all been on clay (Charleston which she won, Stuttgart and the French which she lost, all last year). Na meanwhiel is looking for her first clay title and to make her third final of the year. Ooh, and Sam breaks her to 30 to open behind some biiiiig forehands, pushing her opponent back, back, back and forcing her to hit shots that just aren’t deep enough and sit up, waiting to be put away.

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