Samantha Stosur struggles to opening round victory over lowly Lee in Hong Kong Tennis Open
Australian needs almost two hours to overcome young Taiwanese
Former US Open champion Samantha Stosur progressed to the second round of the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open on Monday after completing a hard-fought 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 win over Taiwan’s Lee Ya-hsuan, the world number 303.
Lee began brightly and managed a break to love in the third game of a back-and-forth opening set, and extended her lead to 3-1. But that seemed to stun the Australian into action and she claimed the next five games to wrap up the first set in 37 minutes.
Former US Open champion Stosur was in control as she moved into a 3-1 lead in the second set, before the 22-year-old Taiwanese hit back and surprisingly levelled the match by taking her second set point.
Stosur then started the third set with a swift break of serve before going 2-0 up. Lee hit back with a break, but the veteran’s class eventually shone through and Stosur wrapped up victory in a minute under two hours.
— WTA (@WTA) October 9, 2017
“I played well, I was happy with the third set in the way I finished it off quickly,” said Stosur. “Playing someone like her, she has nothing to lose. She came out swinging.
“The third set I stepped it up and hit some winners. Once I got that lead I was able to keep it up.”
The 33-year-old Stosur, a former world top-five player, missed this year’s Wimbledon and US Open because of a stress fracture in her hand and has endured a difficult Asian swing after opening round defeats in Tokyo, Guangzhou and Wuhan.
“I was really disappointed not to make it back for the US Open, that whole time in the US summer I feel I can do well when playing with confidence,” she said.
“It was so clear to me I couldn’t play, so painful, that it probably made it a little easier to deal with in some ways. It felt like it took forever [to return from injury]. But in the big picture I have to be happy with that.”
Australian ousts Lee 6-3, 4-6, 6-1! pic.twitter.com/Wo6VGMz6CY
— WTA (@WTA) October 9, 2017
“At first I was really tentative in Guangzhou and Tokyo,” she added. “I had to schedule more days off than I would have liked but now feel I can go out and practise and not worry about it.”
She finally snapped her losing streak with an impressive straight sets win over Katerina Siniakova, before losing out to world number eight Jelena Ostapenko in the second round of last week’s China Open in Beijing, and she was not at her best in the win over Lee.
“I still feel there’s a little bit of work to do to have full confidence, hitting my forehand especially, but it’s getting there,” said Stosur.
“The longer it takes to get back there the harder it is. But to have five events before the end of the year is a bit of a bonus.”
Stosur will now face either world number three Agnieszka Radwanska or Hong Kong’s own Zhang Ling, a wild-card entrant at Victoria Park, in round two.
Elsewhere on Monday, China’s Zhang Shuai stormed into the second round with a 6-0, 6-0 demolition of Japan’s Kurumi Nara.
Americans Nicole Gibbs and Shelby Rogers won through 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 and 6-4, 6-4 respectively against Valentini Grammatikopoulou and Jang Su-jeong.
Lizette Cabrera of Australia also reached the last 16 with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Japan’s Shuko Aoyama.
In the final singles match of the evening, China’s Wang Qiang beat Taiwan’s Chang Kai-chen 6-3, 6-0.
TUESDAY’S ORDER OF PLAY
Zhang Ling (Hong Kong) vs  Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland)
Risa Ozaki (Japan) vs  Venus Williams (US)
Not Before 7:00pm
 Elina Svitolina (Ukraine) vs Zarina Diyas (Kazakhstan)
 Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) vs Eugenie Bouchard (Canada)
Miyu Kato (Japan) vs  Daria Gavrilova (Australia)
 Elena Vesnina (Russia) vs Luksika Kumkhum (Thailand)
 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Russia) vs Timea Babos (Hungary)
Desirae Krawczyk (US)/Giuliana Olmos (Mexico) vs  Shuko Aoyama (Japan)/Yang Zhaoxuan (China)
Naomi Osaka (Japan) vs Alexa Guarachi (Chile)
Jacqueline Cako (US) vs Priscilla Hon (Australia)
Jennifer Brady (US) vs Misa Eguchi (Japan)
 Eri Hozumi (Japan)/Miyu Kato (Japan) vs Kaitlyn Christian (US)/Alexa Guarachi (Chile)