NEW YORK (Reuters) - Samantha Stosur was left to reflect on a match of missed opportunities as the Australian's serve and shot at U.S. Open semi-final berth were blown away by Tuesday's swirling breezes on center court.
Stosur relies on her strong serve and was ahead early in every set but the fifth seed lost all four of her service games in the decider as she fell 6-4 5-7 6-3 to defending champion Kim Clijsters in an error-strewn quarter-final.
"It was definitely tough conditions," said Stosur, the runner-up at this season's French Open. "The windiest conditions I've played in all week and probably the worst I've served all week.
"Put those two things together and you don't hold serve for the third set and you lose."
Belgium's Clijsters also struggled with her serve, committing eight double faults to Stosur's three, and the pair combined to force a break in nine out of 10 games at the end of the second set and through the first half of the decider.
Stosur, who survived four match points in beating former U.S. Open finalist Elena Dementieva of Russia in the fourth round, won her first set ever against Clijsters to force a third but could not carry that momentum forward.
"I'm happy to make it to the quarters, by far my best result here," said Stosur, 26, who had never previously advanced further than the second round at Flushing Meadows.
"I'm going to be disappointed about this one, I think.
"You can't break serve and have chance after chance after chance and blow it in a quarter-final. It's just too big of an opportunity to kind of let go, and unfortunately that's what I did today."
Stosur, however, refused to blame the result on her late-night victory over Dementieva, that ended at 1:35 a.m. on Monday morning.
"I had a good night's sleep last night," she said. "I think the positives are that I made it to the quarter-finals of another grand slam. I know I can walk away happy with that, but I think there was definitely a chance to make it a little bit better."
Reporting by Larry Fine, Editing by John O'Brien