PARIS - After a quick exit at her last Grand Slam tournament, Samantha Stosur is very much in the mix again at the French Open.
Stosur, who followed her 2011 U.S. Open title with a first-round loss at the Australian Open in January, made the semifinals at Roland Garros with a 6-4, 6-1 victory Tuesday over No. 15 seed Dominika Cibulkova.
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The sixth-seeded Aussie will play No. 21 Sara Errani of Italy, who made her first Grand Slam semifinal with a 6-3, 7-6 (2) victory over 10th-seeded Angelique Kerber.
With a win against Errani, Stosur will be one match away from her second semifinal in the last three Grand Slams and her third semifinal at Roland Garros since 2009.
Had she performed even halfway well in Australia, she'd likely be viewed as a dominant player in women's tennis right now. But that first-round exit? Ugly.
"But I guess it's just the way it is," Stosur said. "It's a totally different surface and time of the year. It's always tough coming out playing, you know, straight up at the start of the year. And being Australian, there is a little bit more pressure playing there, but hopefully one day I'll be able to handle it better."
So far, she has encountered no such problems in France, not losing a set through her first five matches.
Her match against Cibulkova was pretty much drama-free, save a minor blip in the second set when, trailing 1-0, she faced three break points at love-40. But she won 13 of the next 14 points to take control and wound up winning the match's last six games. Stosur made only four unforced errors in the second set.
"Her topspin and her serve — I mean, she played like a man, and it's really hard to play against a man," Cibulkova said. "It was driving me crazy on the court today."
Stosur was the French Open runner-up to Italy's Francesca Schiavone in 2010 and made the semifinals in 2009. Now, she's got an important matchup with another Italian, Errani — a series in which she holds a 5-0 lead, including a 6-3, 7-5 win earlier this year on clay in Rome.
"I think this is probably the breakthrough year for her," Stosur said. "She's having a good year. You've got to respect that and be aware of that."
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The win over Kerber was Errani's her first in 29 tries against a top-10 player. The second set included eight total breaks, including twice by Errani when Kerber served for the set.
The 0-5 record versus Stosur was not overwhelming Errani, she said.
"If I'm here, it's because I'm playing good, so I want just to think about that and think about fighting and (doing) my best," Errani said. "How it goes, we will see."
Playing in her 19th career major tournament, Errani beat two past French Open champions in her previous two matches: 2008's Ana Ivanovic and 2009's Svetlanta Kuznetsova. This is her first Grand Slam semifinal after reaching the quarterfinals in Australia in January. She dedicated her latest victory to victims of two deadly earthquakes that struck northern Italy last month.
Rafa Nadal made short work of his great rival Roger Federer to win the Italian Open, while Serena Williams took down Victoria Azarenka in the women's final.
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