Hewitt heartens locals but Stosur loses out to nerves
Some things never change in Australian tennis. Lleyton Hewitt can usually be relied upon to put his fans through the wringer, while the weight of local expectations always sits heavily on the shoulders of Sam Stosur, the best Australian woman player for 30 years.
Hewitt, who at No 181 in the world rankings needed a wild card in order to make a record 16th appearance here at the Australian Open, appeared to be coasting against Cedrik-Marcel Stebe when he won the first two sets, only for the German to take the third and go 5-2 up in the fourth. Stebe faltered, however, while 30-year-old Hewitt held firm to win 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 and earn a second-round meeting with Andy Roddick.
Stosur became the first Australian woman to win a Grand Slam title for 31 years when she beat Serena Williams in the final of the US Open four months ago, but in 10 appearances here she has never gone beyond the fourth round.
Early losses in Brisbane and Sydney in the first two weeks of the new season indicated that all was not well with the 27-year-old. She made a reasonable start against Romania's Sorana Cirstea, but errors soon started to flow from her racket as freely as water down the nearby River Yarra. "There's not any other word for it but a total disappointment," the world No 5 said after her 7-6, 6-3 loss. "I'm probably very close to crying, having a really awful night."
Stosur admitted the pressure had got to her. "For sure it affects you physically," she said. "That's probably the easiest sign for the outside people to see. You tighten up, your shoulders do get tight, you don't hit through the ball. When anyone's nervous, I think the first thing that goes is your footwork. You don't move your feet as well."
Williams had no such problems, beating Austria's Tamira Paszek 6-3, 6-2 in her opening match, while Petra Kvitova and Maria Sharapova dropped just three games between them in beating Vera Dushevina and Gisela Dulko.
Novak Djokovic, the defending men's champion, looked in ominous form. After dropping his serve to trail Italy's Paolo Lorenzi 2-1 in the first set, the world No 1 won 17 games in a row to win 6-2, 6-0, 6-0.
Mario Balotelli to Liverpool: Best memes as Twitter reacts to imminent £16m transfer
Manchester United transfer news: Louis van Gaal joins Arsenal and Chelsea in the race for Sami Khedira
Mario Balotelli takes 50 per cent pay cut to join Liverpool as Samuel as Eto’o waits in the wings if deal falls through
Crystal Palace next manager latest: Palace consider Ally McCoist - EXCLUSIVE
Click here for the full story." title="When a youngster asked for an autograph outside Manchester City's training ground, Balotelli demanded to know why the boy was playing truant. After the child revealed he was being bullied, Balotelli drove the boy and his mother to the school in question so he could tackle the bully himself. He demanded to see the headmaster to make him aware of the issue and then mediated between the two boys to resolve the problem. A source said: 'Mario feels strongly about bullying.' Click here for the full story." width="88" height="52" />Mario Balotelli: The funniest stories
- 1 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 2 West poised to join forces with President Assad in face of Islamic State
- 3 Mother fed her daughter tapeworms to make her skinny for pageant
- 4 Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
- 5 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile