|Stosur aftef Fed Cup defeat - Getty Images|
The United States have taken a commanding 2-0 lead in their Fed Cup tie against Australia after Samantha Stosur crumbled under pressure to lose to Christina McHale.
Stosur looked well and truly in control for the first hour of the match but lost her bundle in the second set and then failed to hold her nerve at the death, falling 3-6 6-1 7-5 in an upset to the world No57 on the clay surface at Brisbane’s Pat Rafter Arena.
McHale was a surprise singles nomination for the USA team ahead of the higher-ranked Coco Vandeweghe. But it proved a masterstroke move by captain Mary Joe Fernandez, as the 23-year-old turned the match on its head after losing the first set.
Stosur was her own worst enemy, making 44 unforced errors to McHale’s one, including 11 in the midst of her second-set meltdown. The 2011 US Open champion was 5-0 down before she even won a game in the second set, which lasted just 25 minutes – at one stage conceding eight straight points against her own serve as McHale grabbed the ascendancy.
Stosur fought back in a tense deciding set, but concentration lapses at key moments gave McHale the chance to close out the victory. It is McHale’s first ever career win over Stosur, having failed against her four times previously. The most recent loss come only last month in another tight three-setter at the WTA event at Indian Wells.
Earlier, Daria Gavrilova was overpowered 6-4 6-2 by world No22 Madison Keys in the opening rubber. The reverse singles rubbers, as well as a doubles clash between Stosur and Casey Dellacqua and Vandeweghe and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, will be played on Sunday. Both nations are trying to win their way back into World Group I next year, which would give Australia a chance to win its first Fed Cup since 1974.