Samantha Stosur is the U.S. Open champion, ending two Australian droughts of women’s Grand Slam singles titles that stretched back to tennis Hall of Fame members Margaret Court and Evonne Goolagong Cawley more than three decades ago.
In the process, she stopped pre-tournament favorite Serena Williams of the U.S. from creeping closer to Court’s record of 24 major singles championships.
Stosur, the 27-year-old ninth seed, beat the 28th-seeded Williams 6-2, 6-3 at the National Tennis Center in New York yesterday. Williams hadn’t lost a set in the two-week tournament coming into the final.
“I’m still kind of speechless,” Stosur said in a news conference. “I can’t actually believe I won this tournament.”
Stosur won $1.8 million for the championship, twice Williams’s prize. She became the third consecutive women’s player to capture her first major this year after China’s Li Na took the French Open title and Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic won Wimbledon.
Stosur, a former top-ranked doubles player, is the first Australian woman to win one of the four Grand Slam championships since Cawley in 1980 at Wimbledon. She was playing in her second major final, having finished as runner-up to Francesca Schiavone of Italy at the 2010 French Open.
The last time an Australian took the U.S. Open women’s title was in 1973 when Court claimed her record-extending 24th women’s major singles titles. The tournament was then held on grass at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, New York.
The women’s final was pushed back one day after rain forced officials to extend the tournament into a third week for the fourth straight year. The men’s final is today, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic of Serbia playing defending champion and second- ranked Rafael Nadal of Spain.
Williams, a three-time U.S. Open champion who was seeking her 14th Grand Slam singles title, ended her previous appearance at the U.S. Open in a 2009 semifinal loss with a foot fault and a penalty point when she threatened a lineswoman. There was more controversy against Stosur.
Tournament referee Brian Earley is deciding whether to fine Williams for a code violation for comments to the referee after losing a point, and a service game, in the second set when she yelled “Come on!” before the point was over. Williams faced a break point on her serve when she hit a forehand that Stosur barely tipped as it went past her.
Match umpire Eva Asderaki cited Williams for a verbal hindrance because she shouted before Stosur had a chance to swing at the ball. The point, and first game of the second set, went to Stosur.
“Aren’t you the one who screwed me over last time here?” Williams asked the umpire. Louise Engzell was the umpire for the 2009 semifinal that ended with the foot fault.
Williams was fined $175,000 for threatening the lineswoman in 2009 and is on a three-year suspended U.S. Open ban, which she would incur if she commits any further “major offense” before the end of this year.
Williams was issued a code violation for verbal abuse by Asderaki, the U.S. Tennis Association said in a statement, and Earley will announce today whether Williams will be fined.
“Any impact this code violation might have on Serena Williams’s Grand Slam probation would require the incident being ruled a major event,” according to the statement. “That determination will be made by the Grand Slam committee director.”
Williams said in a news conference that she couldn’t remember any previous run-in with Asderaki, and parried repeated questions about whether she regretted her comments to the umpire. During a changeover after the disputed point, Williams said to Asderaki, “You’re a hater and unattractive inside,” and didn’t shake hands with Asderaki after the match.
“I don’t remember what I said, I was so intense out there,” Williams said in the news conference. “I was in a zone.”
Williams, ranked by former Grand Slam champion John McEnroe and others as the greatest server in women’s tennis history, lost five of her nine service games and 67 percent of the points on her second serve.
The disputed point didn’t affect the match, she said.
“I don’t think it had an impact, because she won handily today,” Williams said. “It was the only good shot I think I hit.”
Williams came back after the ruling, breaking Stosur’s serve in the next game and winning her next two service games to take a 3-2 lead. Stosur, who won the final 12 points of the first set, responded by winning the final four games of the match.
“It was difficult to stay focused, it was probably the loudest I ever felt a crowd in my whole entire life,” Stosur said. “It was definitely a quite overwhelming feeling. But once I hit that next ball in the court and started playing again, I felt settled.”
Stosur tied 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia as the lowest-seeded woman to win the tournament in tennis’ Open era, which began in 1968. Kim Clijsters of Belgium was unseeded when she won in 2009.
Stosur played 147 games in the first six rounds of the tournament compared with 103 for Williams, and was part of a women’s Grand Slam record when she and Maria Kirilenko played a 32-point tiebreaker in the fourth round.
Williams was the pre-tournament favorite among Las Vegas oddsmakers to win her 14th Grand Slam singles title. The 29- year-old American was playing the U.S. Open for the first time since 2009 and was coming back from two operations on her foot and blood clots in her lungs, returning to the courts in June after more than a year on the sidelines.
Stosur’s win harkens back to era when Australian women were a major force at the U.S. Open. At least one Australian woman was in the tournament’s final in eight of the nine years from 1969 to 1977 -- Court in 1969 and 1970; Kerry Reid in 1972; Court and Goolagong in 1973; Goolagong in 1974-76; and Wendy Turnbull in 1977.
Stosur’s first singles title in New York follows another record-setting run at the year’s final major. Her three-set victory over Russia’s Maria Kirilenko in the round of 16 featured the longest tiebreaker in women’s Grand Slam history at 32 points. It came a year after she played in the tournament’s latest-finishing women’s match.
A native of Brisbane in Queensland state, Stosur started playing tennis at age 8 when a friend gave her a racket as a Christmas present. She joined the Australian Institute of Sport at 16 and turned professional in 1999.
Stosur, who reached the WTA Tour’s No. 1 ranking in doubles in February 2006, was sidelined for 10 months after getting Lyme disease in July 2007 and didn’t return to the women’s circuit until June 2008. She claimed her first WTA singles title in Osaka the following year.
At last year’s French Open, she became the first player since 2000 to beat Justine Henin and Williams in the same Grand Slam tournament, and ended Henin’s 24-match winning streak in Paris.
Williams took a 4-2 career record against Stosur into the final, including a 6-4, 6-2 win in mid-August in Toronto.
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