Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hewitt Lifts Nation after Stosur Crumbles under Weight of Expectation

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hewitt Lifts Nation after Stosur Crumbles under Weight of Expectation

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Jones in Melbourne

US OPEN champion Sam Stosur was knocked out of the first round here today but veteran Lleyton Hewitt raised Australia's spirits with a trademark battle that justified the 30-year-old's wild card.

Aussie Stosur was beaten by Romania's Sorana Cirstea 7-6, 6-3 to stun the centre court crowd but Hewitt transformed the mood as he dragged himself back from 5-2 down in the fourth set to beat world No83 Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, of Germany, 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.

Hewitt, who underwent foot surgery last March, played well above his world ranking of No181 to earn a meeeting with old foe Andy Roddick. The No15 seed from America leads their head-to-head 7-6 and has not lost to the double Grand Slam champion since 2005.

"I'm looking forward to facing Andy again and being out here in front of these amazing fans," said Hewitt, after appearing in the tournament for a record 16th consecutive year. "I'm not looking to head into the commentary box yet."

Stosur's demise was painful to watch as she sank under the pressure generated by massive expectation of the home fans.

It was an accident many predicted would happen as the No6 seed has been out of form since defeating Serena Williams in an amazing final in New York four months ago.

An emotional Stosur tried to explain her loss to Cirstea, who is ranked 59th in the world, and admitted nerves had hindered her game.

"I'm probably very close to crying, having a really awful night," she said. "But I think you feel what you feel, whether it's good or bad, and it's hard to suppress those emotions when it means so much to you.

"Physically, I think it's easy to see that 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 and once that breaks down, it's easy for other things to start breaking down."

Despite the defeat, the 27-year-old believes she will come good again. …

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