Melbourne, Australia, 10 January 2012 | David Packman
While Samantha Stosur’s early exits from the Brisbane International and the Apia International Sydney in the past fortnight have by no means buoyed confidence in her ability to make a run at the Australian Open 2012 title, we need to remember that a week is a long time in tennis.
Speaking ahead of Australian Open 2012 this morning, Tournament Director Craig Tiley reminded us of Stosur’s preparation ahead of her successful US Open bid last year. “We can draw some parallels to Sam’s lead-in to the US Open which wasn’t that great,” he said. “She went on and won the title.”
Following her first-round loss to Francesca Schiavone in Sydney yesterday, Stosur admitted to being ”hamstrung” by her emotions as she seemingly buckled under the weight of local expectation. However, she believes her experience at the US Open last year will help put her in a better place to deal with the pressure on the big stage in Melbourne.
Tiley said that it’s tough for Australian athletes to play in front of their home crowd. “The expectations we all put on our home athletes is pretty high – but I don’t think it’s any bigger than their own expectations that they put on themselves.”
While the recent losses were, in Stosur’s words, “more disappointing here than anywhere else,” she said that “going through all those experiences in New York and throughout the year – and throughout all the years I’ve played tennis – are absolutely key to me handling it.”
“I had two pretty disappointing tournaments, but I also had that in previous years and got to Melbourne and played better and handled it better.”
Stosur is also no stranger to winning matches at Melbourne Park, having twice made it through to the second week of competition and last year unfortunately running into eventual 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the third round after looking solid early in the tournament.
“I’ve got another week to keep preparing. I’d like to think it’s all going to come together for me,” Stosur concluded yesterday.
Tiley couldn’t agree more. “(Sam) is going to be here ready to compete. (She’s) a top ten player in the world and I wouldn’t be counting her out.”