Russia's Vitalia Diatchenko looks like a cartoon superhero. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)
Russia's Vitalia Diatchenko looks like a cartoon superhero. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)

Sweet Sam Stosur look at these arms

SWEET Samantha Stosur look at these arms.

Russian tennis player Vitalia Diatchenko might have spent most of her career on the fringes of the women's top 100 but it's not because she's failed to put the time in at the gym.

The 28-year-old nearly stunned the world overnight when she charged to the first set 6-2 in her opening-round match against Serena Williams at the French Open.

She was pounding the ball to all corners of the court with the type of power that only comes from brute strength.

Williams said she felt like she was running in concrete blocks but managed to turn the match around to continue her pursuit of a record-equalling 24th grand slam title.

The American ace picked up after an error-riddled slow start to beat the Russian 2-6 6-1 6-0.

Williams arrived in Paris having played in just four tournaments this year, starting but withdrawing from each except the Australian Open where she lost her quarter-final to Karolina Pliskova.

Lately the American has been troubled by a left knee problem and a picture of her in a wheelchair last week with her daughter at Disneyland added to concerns.

Sam Stosur's arms are nothing to scoff at. Pic: Michael Klein
Sam Stosur's arms are nothing to scoff at. Pic: Michael Klein

She looked nervous and rusty as world No. 83 Diatchenko took the opening set from her amid a slew of mistakes but a roar of frustration seemed to turn things around and she lost only one of the last 13 games.

"I just got nervous out there and I stopped moving my feet," Williams said. "And it was like concrete blocks on my feet. I was, like, 'You've got to do something'.

"I was just making so many errors. Every shot I hit, I felt like I was hitting on my frame. I usually don't hit balls on my frame. I was just off, basically, and then instead of correcting it, I just kept getting worse.

"I knew it couldn't get worse and I knew I could only go up. That's what I told myself."

Vitalia Diatchenko tried to blast Serena Williams off the court. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
Vitalia Diatchenko tried to blast Serena Williams off the court. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Stosur joined Williams in the second round after  eliminating Czech Barbora Strycova 6-2 7-6 (7-3).

US Open winner and Roland Garros finalist will next face Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova in a suddenly weakened section of the draw.

The 2010 runner-up and triple French semi-finalist revels in Paris, away from the suffocating spotlight at Melbourne Park.

"Maybe Roland Garros brings out the best of me," Stosur said.

"It's not something you know is going to happen (winning) but it proves that prior results don't mean that first round (of a slam) is going to be an exit.

Dual Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was favoured to advance from Stosur's section but withdrew from the tournament with a forearm issue.

In Kvitova's absence - and 30th seed Mihaela Buzarnescu's first-round loss to Alexandrova - Stosur has a great opportunity to reach the fourth round with no seeded players in her path.

Fellow Australian Astra Sharma's Roland Garros debut ended with a 6-3 6-3 defeat to American Shelby Rogers.

News Corp Australia


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