Sydney, 15 December 2010 | AAP

No time to rest on her laurels, Samantha Stosur’s first match of 2011 looms as potentially one of the most important of her career.

Feeling mentally and physically refreshed after a three-week break following her stellar 2010 season, Stosur is back in full training for the new year.

Her immediate focus is the Brisbane International, where a first-round success could secure Stosur a coveted top-four seeding at next month’s Australian Open.

With defending champion and five-times winner Serena Williams scratched from the Open with a foot injury, there are more opportunities than meet the eye for the French Open runner-up.

In the fourth-ranked Williams’s absence, Stosur will be seeded fourth for the Melbourne Park grand slam – and avoid facing a higher-ranked opponent until at least the semi-finals – if she climbs one spot to No.5 in the world.

And trailing the fifth-ranked Venus Williams, who is only playing exhibition events before the Open, by a meagre three rankings points, the door will be ajar for the top-seeded Stosur in Brisbane from January 2-8

“An obvious goal would be to try and get [into the] top five,” Stosur said on Wednesday.

Stosur finished the season on a high with a victory over year-end No.1 Caroline Wozniacki at the WTA Championships in Doha and Williams’s Open no-show is further fuelling her confidence.

“It definitely opens the door for lots of players,” she said.

“It’s a great opportunity for everyone who can play.”

Stosur reached the semifinals in Qatar’s stifling heat and believes the similarly hot conditions in Melbourne will give her a decided edge at her home slam.

“I’m one of the few players that are here now training – on the (Plexicushion) court, in the sun, getting used to the conditions, so I think it can only help throughout January,” she said.

“It’s not so easy for the Europeans who have been in winter or training somewhere else.

“They’ve got to have a long flight over here, a short preparation going into the first couple of tournaments, so hopefully it will put me into a good spot.”

The power-hitting right-hander also believes she’s far better equipped to handle the intense spotlight than last year.

“It was quite difficult last year,” Stosur said.

“It was harder than what I thought it was going to be and I thought I was ready for all the hype and the extra attention, but didn’t really handle it too well in the first couple of weeks.

“But as the Aussie Open went on, I started to feel a bit more comfortable and started playing quite well.

“So now that I’ve had a good taste of that, not only January this year but throughout the whole year, I think I’ll be much better prepared.

“I guess it’s a matter of just keeping your head and really focusing on what’s important and that’s getting on the court and being prepared for matches.”

Stosur will complete her Open build-up at the Sydney International, where seven of the world’s top 10 women will be in action, including Wozniacki.