Patience key for Stosur improving
PATIENCE could be the virtue that propels Samantha Stosur closer to the world top-10 players this year.
- <LI class=byline>Courtney Walsh
- January 15, 2007
While Australia's leading female player has risen through the ranks on the back of a powerful, athletic game, combined with brilliant hands at the net, she has struggled for consistency from the baseline. But Stosur, ranked 27, is confident her new coach Nicole Bradtke can help rectify that weakness and believes she has already made her a more rounded player, entering the Australian Open. Bradtke knows something about patience, having reached the semi-finals of the French Open in 1988 as an 18-year-old with a steady, if unspectacular, game.
"She can pick up little things from other players and a few little things in my game that she's been able to help out and try and change a little bit," Stosur said yesterday.
"It's just being a little bit more patient and going for the right shot at the right time, and making me aware of that sort of thing.
"It's nothing, but it's been good to have that positive support around me."
Stosur, who was coached briefly last year by former champion doubles player Gigi Fernandez, agreed to a temporary relationship with Bradtke with the assistance of Tennis Australia.
The 24th-seed said the pair would discuss the possibility of a longer commitment following the Australian Open.
"We've only been together for a few weeks, just over the summer, but so far so good," Stosur, 22, said.
"I really enjoy working with Nicole and I can't see anything changing over the next two weeks."
Stosur, who lost to Dinara Safina in the quarter-finals of the Australian Women's Hardcourt Championships at the Gold Coast, and Jelena Jankovic in the second round in Sydney last week, opens tomorrow in what is likely to be oppressive heat against qualifier Klara Zakopalova.
While there is a rankings gulf between the pair, with Zakopalova at 119, the Czech is far from a pushover, having won two titles, the most recent in Slovenia in 2005.
Once ranked as high as 27, the 24-year-old defeated Stosur in straight sets at their only meeting, on clay at Charleston in 2005, and the Australian is understandably wary.
"She's a good player.
"I didn't actually know she'd fallen out of the top 100, but obviously she's playing well, having qualified, and probably trying to get back to 50, where she was," Stosur said.
"She hits, from what I can remember, pretty hard and flat and kind of goes for it a lot, so it is just being ready for that, always being ready for the ball to come back quickly, and trying to take advantage of any type of ball she doesn't do that with."
If successful against Zakopalova Stosur will face Sydney wild-card Sophie Ferguson in the second round, if she can beat Croatian Jelena Kostanic Tosic.
"I don't necessarily think Klara's a clay-court player, but that match we played a little while ago, I found it pretty tough, but I think I'm a lot better player than what I was a couple of years ago," Stosur said.
"I heard it's going to be 39 degrees and if it gets to that, that's fine with me. I think I can handle the heat, hopefully, and I think if it is hot it will probably suit my game a little bit more."
Provided Stosur maintains her form, she has a chance of bettering last year's fourth round, given she is unlikely to be intimidated by either 12th seed Anna Chakvetadze, or world No.9 Patty Schnyder, who are drawn in her section.
"I'd love to get to the same spot as I did last year, hopefully a lot better, but every match is tough and every year is different," she said. "Every day is different, so I've just got to go out there and play every match as it is and hopefully it puts you deep in the second week."