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While you were sleeping: Stosur crashes out in Australia

Hometown hero Sam Stosur is out of the Australian Open, while Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Petra Kvitova moved through to round two.

David Ferrer of Spain serves to Rui Machado of Portugal during their first round match at the Australian Open.
David Ferrer of Spain serves to Rui Machado of Portugal during their first round match at the Australian Open.
Image: AP Photo/Andrew Brownbill

John Pye, AP

US OPEN CHAMPION Sam Stosur crashed out in the first round of the Australian Open in straight sets this morning.

Sixth-seeded Stosur lost 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 to world number 59 Sorana Cirstea of Romania in a major blow for local fans desperate to end a long drought at the national championship.

Stosur has had one win in three tournaments on home soil in 2012, continuing her terrible run at home since she beat Serena Williams to capture her first Grand Slam title in New York last September.

After saving three match points, Stosur finally lost it when her looping forehand drifted over the baseline to hush the Rod Laver Arena crowd on the second day of the tournament.

No Australian has won the national title since Chris O’Neil in 1978.

Stosur’s first-round loss mirrors that of Petra Kvitova, who went out in the first round of last year’s US Open after winning Wimbledon. After winning the French Open, Li Na lost in the second round at Wimbledon and the first round of the US Open.

“We all saw what happened last year and now I’ve kind of gone through that same trend,” Stosur said.

I don’t know why it seems to be happening more often than not right now. I’m sure if we could all change the way we’ve responded straight after winning a Grand Slam, we would have.

Cirstea hadn’t beaten Stosur in both their previous matches and is slightly concerned now about being public enemy number one, saying: “Probably the whole country hates me now.”

The other three women’s major winners from 2011 are into the second round after Kvitova advanced in straight sets. Australian champion Kim Clijsters and Li Na are in the other half.

Winning streak

Novak Djokovic had no problems recently after winning a major. Anyone who didn’t know he won three of the four Grand Slam titles last year only had to look at his shoes.

Djokovic started his Australian Open defense with a 6-2 6-0 6-0 win over Paolo Lorenzi of Italy, wearing a pair of red-white-and-blue shoes with images of his three major trophies on the sides and a Serbian flag on the heels.

He gave up an early break but immediately broke back at love as he won the next 17 games, saving a break point in the opening game of the second set.

“It was a great performance for (my) first official match of the 2012 season,” said the top-ranked Djokovic, whose only lost at a Grand Slam tournament last year was in the French Open semifinals.

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Andy Murray, who lost last year’s final to Djokovic and the 2010 decider to Roger Federer, struggled early before beating American Ryan Harrison 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-2 on Hisense Arena.

If seedings remain on course, he could meet Djokovic in the semifinals. Number two Rafael Nadal and number three Federer are on the same half of the draw and both moved on to the second round with wins on Monday. Nadal advanced only hours after an injury scare on Sunday when he hurt his right knee.

Djokovic, who surpassed both Nadal and Federer in the rankings last year, decided not to play any warmup tournaments before the Australian Open and was confident it wouldn’t harm his chances.

I’m nowadays a more complete player. I feel physically I’m stronger, I move better. I serve better,” he said. “Especially having 2011 the way I had, this gives me more confidence.

The 24-year-old Serb has won two Australian titles — including his first major in 2008 — and his game is well suited to the pace of the hard court. But he struggled at times with the heat at Melbourne Park before his breakthrough season last year and didn’t always look comfortable against Lorenzi as the temperature hit 90 degrees in the first set.

It didn’t stop him from entertaining his fans, though. He played a shot between his legs, with his back to the net, to set up a break point chance in the fourth game of the third set which brought the crowd to its feet.

Other men advancing included David Ferrer, Janko Tipsarevic, Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet, Milos Raonic of Canada, Kei Nishikori of Japan, Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina and Alex Bogomolov Jr., now representing Russia.

Race to the top

On the women’s side, second-ranked Kvitova and number four Maria Sharapova advanced with lopsided wins.

After surrendering her opening service game with a double-fault, Kvitova won 12 consecutive games in a 6-2 6-0 win over Russia’s Vera Dushevina.

Kvitova reached the quarterfinals here last year at the start of a season in which she surged up the rankings.

Last week, she missed a chance to overhaul Caroline Wozniacki’s No. 1 ranking when she lost in the Sydney International semifinals. She needed to win the Sydney tournament to take the top ranking.

But she gets another chance at Melbourne Park, where she was one of six women who started the tournament with a shot at finishing with the No. 1 spot.

Sharapova, a former Australian Open and Wimbledon champion, won the first eight games of a 6-0 6-1 win over Gisela Dulko of Argentina in her first match since returning from an left ankle injury. The 2008 champion needed just 58 minutes for the win.

Other women advancing included Sabine Lisicki, Dominika Cibulkova, Maria Kirilenko, Canada’s Aleksandra Wozniak, Shahar Peer of Israel and 2000 Wimbledon semifinalist Jelena Dokic.

Serena Williams, a 13-time Grand Slam winner, will play a night match against Tamira Paszek. She didn’t get to defend her title last year because of injury and comes into the season’s first major with concern over her left ankle.

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Associated Press

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