Before the third match on Court 5 even began, the US Open’s newest show court was filled to the brim with eager spectators. Those who came early were treated to a blockbuster encounter between No. 24 seed Samantha Stosur and Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi. Saving two match points late in the decider, Kanepi ultimately triumphed over the 2011 US Open champion, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6.
For a little over two hours, the former No. 4 Stosur and the former No. 15 Kanepi exchanged breathtaking blows off the ground, with the Aussie’s whippy topspin a perfect contrast to the Estonian’s flatter drives. Stosur was coming off a solid summer, and the big-hitting Kanepi is infamous within the tennis pundits for her major league talent and maddening inconsistency.
Though both have high-risk games, the battle was as clean as it could have been, with a combined 61 winners dazzling the enraptured crowd. A clean forehand winner set up the opening set for Stosur, while Kanepi evened the contest with a well-struck forehand of her own. The final set was a tense affair, with neither dropping serve until the ninth game. Kanepi served for the match only to serve to stay in it two games later, but the pro-Stosur crowd was begging for a final-set tiebreak.
The Estonian obliged and treated Court 5 to a marathon sudden death that featured stunning rallies and surprising swings of momentum. Playing their best with their backs against the wall, both saved match points with fearsome forehand winners. Kanepi saved two late in the tiebreak, and though she would be thwarted on her first attempt, her serve won the day.