Sam Stosur’s season brightens in Hobart

Two gutsy breakthrough wins have Sam Stosur believing her season is finally sputtering into life in time for her Australian Open campaign.

Stosur followed a scrappy first round effort at the Hobart International with a never-say-die third-set tiebreaker win over world No 54 Kristina Mladenovic to reach the quarter-finals yesterday.

The top-seeded Australian saved two match points in the decider for a 6-4 2-6 7-6 (9-7) second-round win.

‘‘Any win’s a good win but when you’ve got to really tough it out and battle through a long match ... if you’re winning 7-6 in the third you’re probably holding your nerve pretty well,’’ Stosur said.

The world No 17’s gamble to shake up her Open preparations looked not to have paid off when she lost all three matches at the Hopman Cup.

She brought plenty of rust to Hobart, where she hasn’t played for close to a decade, and just saw off American qualifier Madison Brengle in the first round.

But the 29-year-old said her game began coming together over the five matches as she looks to put years of disappointment at her home grand slam behind her.

‘‘Midway through that second set, it actually felt like things were coming out a little bit cleaner, a little bit more solid,’’ she said.

‘‘I actually felt better about things but I lost it 6-2.

‘‘I think the third it was probably the best tennis I’ve played this week.’’

‘‘It’s nice that now I’ve won a couple of matches going into Melbourne but I’m certainly not feeling like I’m ready to leave Hobart just yet,’’ she said.

Stosur came close to admitting she got out of jail against Mladenovic, saving one of the tall Frenchwoman’s match point with a lucky backhand that caught the line.

‘‘I think I played two really tough points, maybe hit that slice backhand in by a couple of centimetres but that’s what it takes sometimes,’’ Stosur said.

She now faces eighth-seed Bojana Jovanovski in the quarters.

Meanwhile, Hobart defending champion Elena Vesnina retired from her second-round match against Spanish qualifier Estrella Cabeza Candela with a hip injury. The Russian world No 24 quit with the score at 4-6 6-2 4-1. AAP

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