Australian Open, Day 3: Djokovic rolls, Stosur chokes

Shane Bacon
Busted Racquet

I can't even imagine what the pressure must be like to be an Australian with a chance to win the Australian Open. Lleyton Hewitt has been dealing with this all his life (it might be why this Grand Slam seems to be the one he struggles at the most), and we've seen how the English players deal with Wimbledon when they have a chance to finally break that drought.

And then we have Samatha Stosur. The 28-year-old Aussie with the massive guns and the 2011 U.S. Open crown is Australia's best chance at breaking the drought that has kept an Australian woman out of the winner's circle at this event since 1978. That was, until Wednesday.

Stosur, the No. 9 seed, was playing Jie Zheng in her second round match and after splitting the first two sets it seemed that Stosur had finally found her game and was rolling to the third round.

But then it happened. Stosur, up 5-2, was broken on her own serve, giving Zheng some hope. And after the 29-year-old held her own serve to get it to 5-4, Stosur again served for the match and a sigh of relief. The problem was, that service game and the one before it were eerily similar. Both times Stosur was up 30-15, two points away from the match, and both times she couldn't pull it out.

Zheng broke her again, and after winning her service game, forced Stosur to serve to stay in the match. It ended, almost predictably, on a Stosur double-fault and Rod Laver Arena sounded like it was on mute.

Afterwards, Stosur admitted that she choked, telling reporters "At 5-2 up in the third, double break probably is a bit of a choke."

As a sports fan, it was tough to watch. No matter the person you're rooting for, the last thing you want is to see an athlete that can't finish the job. As gritty as Zheng played in those final few games, it was Stosur that couldn't find that final gear to close out her match and will be searching for something else the next time she's in this position in Australia.

Novak rolls again -- With the was Novak Djokovic is currently hitting the ball, expect to read those words over the next few days. Novak took care of American Ryan Harrison quickly on Wednesday, beating him 6-1, 6-2, 6-3.

The two-time winner faces Radek Stepanek next.

Maria Sharapova bagels another opponent -- In what one announcer called the most lopsided second round match she may have ever seen, Maria Sharapova again didn't let her opponent win a game.

Sharapova took down Misaki Dio 6-0, 6-0 on Wednesday after doing the same thing to Olga Puchkova in the first round. I'm not sure what's in those new candies of hers, but it appears it's giving her the ability to smoke the ball past opponents.

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