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Brilliant opening day in Sydney

11 January 2009, by Sydney International Tennis

No. 1 seed Serena Williams survived four match points to defeat Australia’s Samantha Stosur 6-3 6-7(4) 7-5  in front of a crowd of 8000 on Ken Rosewall Arena at the Medibank International Sydney today.

Williams opened the match slamming down three aces in the first four points. She broke Stosur’s serve in the fourth game of the set and maintained the advantage to close things out. The second set see-sawed, with players exchanging breaks of serve.

The second went to a tiebreak, which Stosur won seven points to four. When the Australian levelled the match the crowd on Ken Rosewall Arena, which was up around 8,000 roared with approval.

Early in the deciding set, Stosur broke to go up 2-1. Williams struck back immediately. Again the Aussie took the advantage and lead 4-2 as the pressure was being put on Williams. Stosur came within one game of the match at 5-3 and one of the biggest upsets in the event’s history.

Stosur had three match points when she was serving at 5-4 but two were lost with double faults. She had one more match point and that too was saved by Williams who broke for 5-5, held for 6-5 and then with Stosur serving to force a tiebreak, Williams unleashed some big returns to clinch victory on her second match point.

In the first match on the Ken Rosewall Arena, last year’s finalist Svetlana Kuznetsova was in big trouble against Peng Shuai of China. Peng had won the first set and was up an early break in the third set before the world number eight came back to win 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 and breathe a sigh of relief.

Later in the afternoon Agnieszka Radwanska overcame Sybille Bammer 6-4 6-3.

In other results, Xavier Malisse who beat the last Aussie in qualifying Peter Luczak, Frank Dancevic, Denis Gremelmayr, Jeremy Chardy, Angelique Kerber, Melanie South, Vera Duschevina and Klara Zakopalova all advanced to the main draw.

In an exciting and unexpected match on show court one today, former South African Airways, ATP World Tour No. 1 ranked player  Lleyton Hewitt and fellow Aussie Chris Guccione took on the might of Qantas Australia Wallaby Rugby Stars (ARU), Stirling Mortlock (Captain) and Adam Ashley-Cooper.

The action packed match tie-break was an exhibition to raise awareness for Medibank charity, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

Starting out with Hewitt/Guccione vs Ashley-Copper/Mortlock, the umpire felt that the teams needed to be more evenly matched and ordered a switch of partners.

The tie-break continued with Hewitt/Mortlock and Guccione/Ashley Cooper.  After a tight-fought match, Hewitt/Mortlock came out the winners, with Stirling nearly acing Guccione in the process.

Hewitt said “It was a bit of fun out there; they were certainly competitive and came out there to win!  Actually, I think they were disappointed when the umpire split the teams out, they wanted to beat us.”

“It was fun out there.  I really enjoyed the opportunity play against and with Australia’s best (Hewitt/Guccione) at the Medibank International to support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.” Stirling Mortlock, Captain of the Qantas Wallabies, said.

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Video: Hewitt press conference