Stosur sinks while Li prevails in Sydney
Sam Stosur crashed out in the first round of Sydney's Apia International in three sets to Jie Zheng but Na Li showed the steel of a former champion to win, only a day after arriving from China.
Zheng won 6-3 6-7(7) 6-4 to advance to the second round. She out-played the Australian world No. 9 in the first set, going 5-1 up before taking her time to close it out.
Stosur saved three break points at 2-2 in the second set and went on to win in a tiebreaker before looking like she would charge on for victory as she took a 3-1 lead in the final set.
But Zheng overturned the early break and surged ahead 5-3 from where she saw out the match. Despite the loss to the world No. 42, Stosur feels that her body is almost ready for the rigors of her home grand slam, starting next week.
"I feel like things almost were normal out there with my ankle," Stosur said. "I feel a lot better about this loss. Things almost felt really good. If I can feel good on court and play well, then that's good for me at the Australian Open."
Fourth seed Li certainly had her problems against Christina McHale but survived the stiff test to win in straight sets 7-6(2) 7-5. The world No. 6 lost to her American opponent at Roland Garros in 2011 and had to break McHale twice at 5-4 and 6-5 down in the first set.
However once she made it to the tiebreak her experience told and the raced through to put herself in control. Although she did not have it all her own way in the second set, and found it hard to close out the match as McHale saved two match points, she was grateful for the thorough examination.
"It was very tough," she said. "In China it was 5-6 degrees, but here it is over 30 and with the jetlag, the time change, I was really feeling it in this match.
"It's challenging for both players because of the heat and both of us played two hours on that court and we were still fighting at the end so I was happy that finally I could win the last point."
No. 3 seed Sara Errani from Italy had a much easier passage into the second round, defeating Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 6-1 6-3.
At the Hobart International, top seed Su-Wei Hsieh was knocked out by Shuai Peng in a typical battle between the pair which lasted two and a half hours.
China's Peng won 6-2 6-7(7) 7-6(4) against the Chinese Taipei world No. 25, in the latest instalment of their rivalry which was last on display at the London Olympics, where Peng also won in three sets.