Stosur upsets four-time French Open champion Henin
Clay court queen Justine Henin’s hopes of sealing a fifth French Open title were ended yesterday after she was knocked in the fourth round by Australia’s Sam Stosur 2-6 6-1 6-4.
Henin’s chances of reclaiming the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen for the first time since 2007 evaporated as seventh seed Stosur fought back in front of a packed Philippe Chatrier court despite dropping the first set.
A raucous crowd gave their full support to the Henin, the 22nd seed and four-time French Open champion, but it appeared only to inspire her Australian opponent, who made a resurgent comeback in the second set. Stosur displayed a willingness to come to the net -a move which proved fruitful against the seven-time Grand Slam winner.
Both players dropped a service game in a tight final set but remained level until the ninth game when Henin’s serve broke down. After securing a crucial break at 5-4, Stosur just needed to hold in order to claim an unlikely win.
A nervy Stosur then served a double fault at 40-15 surrendering one of two match points. But she admirably steadied herself and sealed victory with an emphatic smash, ending any hopes of a fifth French Open title for Henin.
The defeat means the Belgian, who returned to the WTA just five months ago, failed in her quest to emulate the glory of compatriot Kim Clijsters at last year’s US Open.
Stosur continues to impress in Paris. Last year she caused a stir as she defeated Elena Dementieva in the third round with the 26-year-old falling to eventual winner Svetlana Kuznetsova in a tight three set affair at the semi-final stage.
A year on she will now face the imposing Serena Williams for a place in the quarter-finals. Stosur began her adventure on the Parisian courts with an enviable record during the clay court season winning 14 out of 16 matches.
Should Stosur manage to overcome Williams and then see off the challenge of Jankovic or Shedova in the semis, it would be a feat not achieved by any Australian woman since 1979.
Wendy Turnbull lost the final that year to the Roland Garros legend, Chris Evert. The last Australian winner of the French Grand Slam was Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1971.
Elsewhere, Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic defeated the 23rd seed Hantuchova in straight sets to set up a quarter-final match-up with the unseeded Shvedova from Kazakhstan.