The French Open has always been the most difficult of the Grand Slam events for Serena; the cloying clay is not conducive to her power game. She knows it, and so do her opponents. Stosur, a 26-year-old from Brisbane, Australia, moving like a cat on the clay at Roland Garros, mixing artful backhand slices with deep, penetrating forehands and a feisty kick serve, was throttling the world No. 1 for a set and eight games Wednesday.
But then, serving for the match at 5-3, Stosur (almost predictably) shrank from the greatest moment of her tennis life when it first presented itself. She threw in her first double fault and made a truly egregious shot choice as Serena broke her for the first time. The tiebreaker was a foregone conclusion. And so, apparently, was the match. "After losing that game, yeah, things kind of stepped up a notch from her," Stosur said after the match. "Yeah, I didn't know if I was going to get another chance."
"That third set just kind of hung in there, and I was behind the whole time serving second. Just tried to hang in and wait for another opportunity. When I got that next chance at 7-6, I wasn't going to let the same thing happen again." Somehow, Stosur weathered Serena's (also predictable) charge, mastering her frayed nerves, saving a match point in the 10th game and saving her best tennis for the end. Stosur broke Serena with two ludicrous passing shots -- a fiery cross-court forehand and a lunging backhand -- and prevailed 6-2, 6-7 (2), 8-6.
Williams hit 13 aces but also nine double-faults and committed 46 unforced errors to 24 for Stosur. ''Had I played better for two minutes, maybe the result could have been different. But it didn't work out,'' said Williams, who missed a forehand by an inch or so when she held a match point at 5-4 in the final set. ''Just wasn't playing well today. Last year, I choked. I guess it's a redundant story with me.'' "It was my match and I lost it. That's basically what happened," she said. "I made so many errors and I definitely was nowhere near my best today. But she (Stosur) played really well. "I just couldn't believe that I played like that.''