On a night when two of Australia's best young female tennis players – Daria Gavrilova and Ajla Tomljanović – bowed out of the Sydney International, it was veteran Samantha Stosur who claimed a hard-fought win.
Stosur beat Slovak Dominika Cibulková, who sits 44 places above her at No.26 in the world, in three sets 3-6 6-3 6-4.
Before the match, Stosur had lost twice in a row to Cibulková in straight sets after defeating the Slovak player several times earlier in her career.
But Stosur said she was confident going into the match.
"I know she doesn't necessarily like playing my game and my style and all that," Stosur said.
"I've had lots of success against her and I know my game can match up really well against hers.
"I'm going to have to play really well to try and get through her and at the end of the day that's all you can really do."
Stosur's serve was match-winning. The Australian pro hit 15 aces to Cibulková's two and 44 winners to Cibulková's 38 unforced errors.
"I thought I played better and better as the match went on," Stosur said.
"The serve kept that momentum for me, because I was able to hold my service games, and being able to get an early break certainly helps as well."
About halfway through it looked as though the match might be delayed until the morning because of rain.
Matches were delayed for hours earlier on Monday, and Stosur said she was not confident play would result after the wet weather halt was called.
"I wasn't confident that [the rain] was going to stop… but thankfully it did," Stosur said.
"It was a pretty important time in the match. I felt like I had all the momentum so I didn't want to stop. I wanted to get out there as quickly as possible."
The win is particularly sweet for Stosur, who has been open about the additional pressure that comes with being Australian and playing in front of a home crowd ahead of the Open.
"Maybe tonight's helped change that," Stosur said.
"It's a lot easier said than done to play relaxed and all that, but it's kind of been something I have been obviously focusing on: trying to show more positivity and trying to feed off the crowd and use all that [to win]."
Stosur will face Switzerland's Timea Bacsinszky in the second round.
Nick is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.
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