Newcombe Medal: Stosur continues to produce
Another fabulous claycourt season helped Sam Stosur finish inside the top 30 for the eighth straight year, earning her a sixth Newcombe Medal nomination.
At age 32, Sam Stosur endures as Australia’s top female tennis player.
The Queenslander completed her eighth straight top-30 season in 2016, and despite going without a WTA title for the first time since 2012, continued to show flashes of the form that took her to a Grand Slam title and the top five.
It is for this reason that Stosur has in 2016 been nominated for the Newcombe Medal – awarded to Australia’s most outstanding elite tennis player and ambassador for the sport – for the sixth time.
Nowhere was Stosur more damaging than on her favoured clay.
Once she hit the red dirt of Europe in April, her season truly kicked into gear. She won through to the Prague final – losing a nail-biting three-setter to Lucie Safarova – and backed that up with a semifinal finish at the prestigious stop in Madrid.
When she got to Paris, she turned back the clock with a run to the Roland Garros semis, her fourth trip to the last four at the claycourt Grand Slam – but first in four years. Along the way she turned the tables on Safarova and beat world No.6 Simona Halep in the fourth round – another revenge win, after Halep had ousted her in Madrid – before going down to eventual champion Garbine Muguruza.
“You can have a great year or two and then you have a slump and everyone writes you off,” Stosur said at Roland Garros..
“But I think it all really comes down to how you feel about what you’re doing. If you feel like [you’re] still healthy, doing everything you need to, training well, training hard, and feel like you can still compete with the best players in the world – I always still felt like that.
“There have obviously been a few dips along the way there. It’s important to really believe in yourself and what you’re doing and know if I keep doing this I can turn it around.”
Stosur compiled a sparkling 14-4 on European clay, which proved the high point of her year – in the second half of the season, her ranking fell and her form tapered.
But there were nonetheless bright spots, like a quarterfinal finish in Washington DC, progression to the third round at the Rio 2016 Olympics and a debut at the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai, China.
Earlier in the season, she reached the second week at Indian Wells, the third round in Charleston and produced her best result in Australia for many years with a quarterfinal showing in Sydney.
In 2017, she will embark on her 19th professional season.