Sam Stosur’s hopes of reaching the latter stages of the Sydney International have been given a huge boost after the shock exits of Caroline Wozniacki and Flavia Pennetta opened up her side of the draw.
Wozniacki, who would have met Stosur in the second round with a win over veteran Czech Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova, forfeited Monday’s match midway through the second set due to a wrist injury.
World No.12 Pannetta, who has been a nemesis for Stosur throughout her career, holds a 5-0 record over the Queenslander and the pair could have met at the quarter-final stage.
However, the Italian lost 6-3 7-6 to unseeded Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova.
Stosur recorded her first win in Sydney since 2011 with a 7-6 (7-3) 5-7 6-3 victory against world No.16 Lucie Safarova and she believes it is the tonic she needs ahead of next week’s Australian Open in Melbourne.
It was the first time in seven encounters she’s beaten the 2014 Wimbledon semi-finalist.
Rain twice took Stosur and Safarova off court in the opening set and windy conditions made it difficult for both players ,but the Australian held on to win in just over three hours on Ken Rosewall Arena.
“The stop-start kind of spinning rain and the wind was really tricky out there,” Stosur said.
“It wasn’t like a constant breeze. It was going all different directions.
“You mix that with a quality opponent down the other end, and it was certainly a really tough match. I am very happy to get through that one.”
Stosur crashed out in the first round in Brisbane last week and the 30-year-old said coach Simon Rea had given her some ideas about ending her wretched run against the Czech left-hander.
“Simon brought a couple different things to the table and we spoke about that,” she said.
“I think it was the last six or seven times I have lost to her, even though a lot of those have been very close.
“He obviously thought I should try something different and kind of change what I was trying to do on return a little bit.”
Stosur is in a great position to progress to the quarter-finals after Wozniacki’s withdrawal, but the former French Open champion said world No.29 Zahlavova-Strycova, who she has never faced before, is a dangerous opponent.
“I don’t think I’ve played her but she had one of her best seasons ever last year,” she said.
“I guess I can enjoy this for a little bit and be back at it tomorrow.”
Australian world No.68 Jarmila Gajdosova, who was given a wild card for the tournament, shocked the 13th-ranked Anna Petkovic of Germany 6-1 7-6 to reach the second round.