Sam Stosur through to French Open fourth round

So much is about the match-up, and this one suits Sam Stosur so marvellously well. Her fifth straight career win against diminutive Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova has propelled the Queenslander into the fourth round of the French Open, as an ordinary year just got incrementally better.

The 161-centimetre Cibulkova struggles with Stosur’s vicious kick serve and ability to run around onto her punishing topsin forehand, on claycourts in particular, and on Court Suzanne Lenglen on Friday, the Slovakian’s overall set deficit was extended to 0-10.

Stosur's 6-4, 6-4 victory delivered her best result at a major in two years, and she is likely to play Maria Sharapova for what, pre-tournament, was anticipated to be a quarter-final against the great Serena Williams. Instead, there is an opening, and if less has been expected of the 19th-seeded Stosur at Roland Garros in 2014 than in many recent years, that may be no coincidence. The great obstacle may be Sharapova, who leads the head-to-head record 13-2, but first has to get past unseeded Argentinian Paula Ormaechea.

Otherwise, Agnieszka Radwanska’s loss to Croat Ajla Tomljanovic - now coached by Stosur’s long-time collaborator, David Taylor, so perhaps he is indirectly helping her, still - has completed a cleanout of the top three seeds, leaving Romanian No. 4 Simona Halep as the highest-ranked. But Stosur has all the claycourt credentials, and, as a former US Open champion, has some grand slam bona fides as well, and has been playing aggressive but controlled tennis. Some unusual frugality was typified by the first-set ratio against Cibulkova of 14 winners to just four unforced errors. Still, as always, it is far less about the numbers than the mind. Stosur’s, that is.

In her first season with new coach Miles Maclagan, she had not won three consecutive matches since losing in the Hobart semi-finals in the second week of January, but there had been some mildly positive signs during the European spring. This was also a helpful draw, although having dropped just two games in her first round, and four in her second, Stosur was aware of the level the ninth-seeded Cibulkova can produce.

The 30-year-old Australian also knew that she needed to continue with what had served her so well in their four previous meetings, and so it was. Stosur had to work for it, but was rewarded, and, having reached the last of her three semi-finals at Roland Garros two years ago, is through to the last 16 for the fourth time in six years. She finished it with her 10th ace in exactly 100 minutes. Some nice round numbers and a good all-round performance.

"I'm very happy with my tennis,'' Stosur said. "I feel like today was definitely my toughest match, and I thought Domi played pretty well, so I'm very happy to get through this one in straight sets, and look forward to the next round.

"I guess it's good to go into it knowing that you've never lost (to her), but then, you never know, she's going to come out wanting to win, as well, and of course it's a new day and anything can happen,'' But not this time. Not at Roland Garros. "I just love playing here - I've had some really great moments here, and some of the best matches of my career, actually.''

The story Sam Stosur through to French Open fourth round first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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