Stosur finally defeats Sharapova to move towards Saurday’s semis.

Samantha Stosur ended a career-long nine-match losing streak against Maria Sharapova with a 6-1 7-5 victory in their opening round robin match at the season-ending WTA Championships in Istanbul. US Open champion Stosur’s win over the Russian puts her on track to reach Saturday’s semi-finals of the elite eight-woman competition. Since their first encounter in 2004, the Australian has spent seven years trying to solve the problem of Maria before finally breaking through on the opening night of the $A4.8m championships. Not that the job gets much easier for Stosur, she takes on a fresh Victoria Azarenka on Wednesday night. Stosur has lost all four of her previous meetings with Azarenka but should fancy her chances based on Tuesday’s showing at the Sinan Erdem Arena. The Queenslander received a warm reception on entering the court but it was nothing compared to the love shown for the Russian whose fiance Sasha Vujacic plays basketball in Turkey. The Australian imposed her will on the contest early and romped through the first set in less than half an hour. In her first match since injuring her ankle a month ago, Sharapova started to find her game in the second set and broke Stosur’s serve. After Sharapova raced to a 3-0 lead in the second set, Stosur clawed her way back and cracked the Russian’s serve for a 6-5 lead. The Australian showed plenty of nerve serving for the match as she saved three break points before securing the win with an errant shot from Sharapova. Stosur has regularly had problems against taller players such as Sharapova and Venus Williams with the heavy top-spin from her ground strokes making the ball lift up invitingly into their hitting zones. However she showed tactical nous to move Sharapova around and frustrate her by mixing up her shots with plenty of slice. Li Na is the other player in Stosur’s half of the draw with the top two players from each group progressing to Saturday’s semi-finals.



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