Australia and Spain locked at 1-1
A steely Samantha Stosur dug herself out of a hole to lift Australia to an opening victory in the World Group II Fed Cup tie against Spain in Adelaide.
Australia’s top ranked player was brushed aside in the first set of the opening rubber at Memorial Drive by Spanish star Maria-Jose Martinez, losing 6-2.
Stosur’s woes worsened in the opening game of the second, when down three break points.
But that crisis prompted a stunning turnaround as the Australian won that game to start a steamrolling winning streak that resulted in a 2-6 6-1 6-4 triumph.
Stosur admitted the second set’s opening game – after which she won 11 of 16 games – was crunch time.
“Obviously it was a huge change in momentum,” Stosur said.
“If I had lost that game then who knows where the match could have ended up.”
The world no.11 conceded the early advantage to the fast-starting Spaniard, who frequently used deft drop shots to upset the flow of the hard-hitting Australian.
“She had full momentum,” Stosur said.
“Then it started to swing my way and gradually got more and more my way and then I was in full control.
“It is just really pleasing that I was able to turn it around so quickly in that second set … not let myself get down in a hole in that set as well.”
Stosur’s mental toughness, coupled with a rise in first serve potency, enabled the Australian to take control of the contest against the Spanish world no.28.
“I’m very pleased that I was able to get through and get us up to a one-nil head start,” Stosur said.
“But for me personally I have lost the two matches that we have played against each other in the last couple of months, so for me to get over that hurdle and come back from a set down, I’m really pleased with that just for my own sake.”
Spain levelled the tie at 1-1 when Australian Casey Dellacqua fell in straight sets to Anabel Medina.
The Spaniard cruised to a 6-2 6-3 triumph against Dellacqua. The West Australian was frustrated at her inconsistent performance, saying she “showed glimpes of good tennis and a lot of errors”.
“I was in it for a lot of points, I was in it for a lot of games but wasn’t able to close out games and finish points off and maybe got a little bit impatient at times,” Dellacqua said.
“She played really well so I have to give her a bit of credit for playing some pretty good tennis.”
Australian captain David Taylor said he wasn’t locked in to his line-up for Sunday’s reverse singles and the potentially deciding doubles match.
“We’d probably like to have a fresh doubles team available, if it comes down to that,” he said.
Australia has marked Rennae Stubbs and Alicia Molik as its doubles team.
The winner of the tie progresses to a play-off for elevation to the elite World Group, which has not featured Australia since 2003.