PARIS, June 5 (Reuters) - A man’s game helped propel Sam Stosur past Dominika Cibulkova on Tuesday and into the semi-finals of the French Open while her petite opponent in the next round, Sara Errani, needed a more delicate touch to beat Angelique Kerber.
Stosur’s high-kicking serve and ferocious top-spin groundstrokes bamboozled 15th seed Cibulkova to such an extent during her 6-4 6-1 defeat that she resorted to a most unflattering description of her Australian opponent.
“She played like a man,” the Slovak told reporters. “It’s really hard to play against a man.”
Waiting for Stosur in the semi-finals is the slightly-built Italian Errani who at 1.64 metres tall lacks the physical stature of many of the top performers in the women’s game.
“I don’t have too much power so I have to think more,” Errani said after relying on her wily approach to overcome 10th-seeded German Kerber 6-3 7-6.
Whether or not her cerebral approach will be enough to beat Stosur, who has powered through to the semi-finals without dropping a set, remains to be seen.
The Australian, who won the U.S. Open in 2011, has a 5-0 record against Errani and is playing in the last four at Roland Garros for the third time in four years.
The shoulder-high bounce Stosur generated on her serve to such good effect against Cibulkova, the shortest player in the top 100, could prove a problem for Errani who has lost all five of their previous encounters.
They have, however, only faced each other once on clay and, with a 23-3 record this year on the red dust, Errani can rightly claim to be an altogether more fearsome opponent here than elsewhere.
Stosur, who lost to Errani’s compatriot Francesca Schiavone in the 2010 final, is unlikely to underestimate the threat posed by the number 21 seed who has already eliminated two former champions Ana Ivanovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova.
“She’s going to be tough,” said Stosur. “She’s not very tall but it doesn’t mean that it’s easy. She’s played very well to get to this point so you have to be ready.”
It was Stosur’s unique playing style that outfoxed Cibulkova in the early afternoon sun on Philippe Chatrier Court.
The kick-serve wide to force her opponent off court was regularly followed by the cross-court winner while her composure in staving off nine out of 10 break points helped her edge a close first set and stroll away with the second.
It was an altogether more complicated affair for Errani who despite winning in straight sets showed a lot of vulnerability as both she and Kerber struggled to hold serve.
Errani released a guttural roar that reverberated around Roland Garros after edging a bizarre second set that featured six successive breaks and eight in total. (Editing by Tony Jimenez)