Stosur believes in Australia’s chances
Sam Stosur believes now is the best time to face the Czech Republic as Australia go into a tough Fed Cup World Group tie against the two-time defending champs.
The Czech Republic’s No.1 player Petra Kvitova currently flounders at her lowest ranking in almost two years. Their second-ranked player, Lucie Safarova, has won just three of seven matches in 2013. Aussies Casey Dellacqua and Ash Barty arrive at the tie full of confidence after their run to the Australian Open women’s doubles final.
In Sam Stosur’s eyes, the Australian team are in with a fighting chance against the mightiest of Fed Cup teams.
“If ever there is a good time (to face the Czechs), now it is,” she said.
“Things can change quickly in tennis so it’s good to try and use all those (factors) to our advantage. But the Czech girls love playing Fed Cup and playing at home I’m sure they are going to be very motivated to bring their best tennis.”
Indeed, a World Group opening-round assignment against the Czechs represents what Stosur believes is arguably the toughest Fed Cup test she’s ever faced.
Playing on home soil in Ostrava on an indoor hardcourt laid over an ice-rink, the central European nation is the two-time defending Fed Cup champion, boasting the 2011 Wimbledon champion in Kvitova and one of the strongest doubles combinations in the world in Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, who won the French Open doubles title the same year.
And while the Czech women are used to the bitterly cold Northern Hemisphere winter temperatures that have seen Europe completely blanketed in snow, the Aussie team are coming from a warm summer Down Under, making their adjustment to the vastly different climes a significant factor.
“We haven’t been outside for more than three minutes a day here,” Stosur revealed.
“The hotel is warm and inside the venue it’s warm even though the court is laid on top of an ice-rink – it’s low bouncing and there’s a hollow sound. In Europe these are fairly common conditions but we don’t have courts like that in Australia, so it does take a little bit of time to adjust.”
For Stosur, this Fed Cup tie couldn’t come quickly enough.
The world No.9 will be desperate to put firmly behind her the disappointment of another underwhelming Australian summer campaign, which featured opening round losses in Brisbane and Sydney before a heart-wrenching second round loss to Zheng Jie at Melbourne Park.
Following that, she returned to her home base in Sydney and hit the practice courts with a vengeance “pretty much like my pre-season”, while also relaxing with some barefoot bowls and enjoying some much-needed down time.
The 2011 US Open champion has proved she can impressively bounce back from such setbacks, having done so just 12 months ago – after a forgettable January in Australia she recovered to lift the Australian team to a comprehensive World Group II first round win over Switzerland in Fribourg, winning both of her singles matches in straight sets.
In fact, Stosur hasn’t dropped a set in Fed Cup action since losing tight three-set matches against Italians Francesca Schiavone and Flavia Pennetta in Hobart in February 2011. She’s a sparkling 29-9 in her Fed Cup career, including 23-9 in singles play.
Her stellar play in Fed Cup can be partly attributed to the pleasure she gets from playing in a team environment, vastly different from the somewhat solitary lifestyle of week-in-week-out play on the WTA Tour.
“It’s not just the players but also the support team – it’s a lot different from the rest of the year and win or lose we always give the best we’ve got and enjoy it and the team dynamic. During the year it’s usually all just about you but one of the nice things about Fed Cup week is that it’s about everyone,” she explained.
Her results when representing her country give the Queenslander hope that she and her team can cause an upset victory over the highly-fancied Czechs in Ostrava.
“They are defending champs and the best team in the world, but last year when we played Germany in Germany (in their World Group Play-off tie in April), we weren’t given much of a chance and we went through that,” she said.
“It’s obviously going to be tough but we definitely have the chance to win.”