Adelaide, Australia, 8 January 2013 | AAP

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova says Samantha Stosur has a high risk game that’s failing her when nervous and she needs to relax to save her Australian summer.

Navratilova also believes Stosur’s rivals are no longer so troubled by the big kicking serve that was such a weapon for the 2011 US Open champion in the past.

“She has got a risky game,” Navratilova said on Tuesday. “It should be safer than it is.

“But when she gets a little nervous, she just hasn’t been able to put it together.

“And I think the girls now are on to her serve, they kind of know what is coming and they have gotten used to it so it’s not as much of a surprise.”

The winner of 18 grand slam singles titles, Navratilova was speaking in Adelaide after Stosur’s early exit from the Sydney International. Stosur’s fifth consecutive loss in Australian tournaments dating back to last summer has left her struggling to get her game together for next week’s Australian Open.

“She has got the skills. If she can just relax and perhaps lower the expectations, take the pressure off – but it’s tricky,” said Navratilova.

“I know when I played and the crowd was really on my side it was almost counter-productive because you miss a shot and you’re already disappointed and the crowd goes ‘ahhh’ and it just exponentially gets worse.

“You feel the pressure so much more because the crowd wants her to do so well.

“But hopefully she can shake some of it off and play the kind of tennis she is capable of.”

Fellow great Martina Hingis was more sympathetic, saying it was not surprising Stosur was struggling so soon after undergoing minor surgery in November.

“She also had some ankle surgery so it’s not so easy,” said Hingis. “I had a couple of those myself and sometimes you just hold back when actually you should just run further and stretch further.

“I think it’s very difficult when you don’t feel 100 per cent physically to produce your best tennis.

“You can train as much as you want, but in a match it’s a little bit different. You can’t hold back in today’s tennis anymore.”

While Stosur accepts she was “underdone” in her first-round loss in Brisbane last week, Australia’s only Open seed and world No.9 insisted she wasn’t far away in her three-set first-round loss to Jie Zheng in Sydney on Monday.

“I feel a lot more sure about myself,” Stosur said.

“I don’t feel that huge amount of frustration or weight on my shoulders or anything like that. I have to say I feel really good out there.

“I couldn’t have said that last year here at this point. I do feel like I’m handling it better. I don’t feel the same kind of overwhelming stress being out on court.

“It’s just a matter of trying to play better.”

At times in her loss to Jie – herself no mug having reached the Australian Open and Wimbledon semifinals – Stosur appeared unable to fully commit to some shots but she refused to offer excuses.

“Look, to be honest, my ankle feels good at the moment,” she said.

“Physically … I still felt like I was up to it.”