Stosur tipped for heights
by Adrian Proszenko
February 14, 2005
SAMANTHA Stosure and Alicia Molik may be headed for the women's tennis No.1 ranking, new Australian Fed Cup captain John Alexander said today.
He made the claim today when announcing world No.46 Stosur would lead his first cup squad against India in April while world No.10 Molik is given a leave pass to pursue the top ranking.
It's a bold statement about a player who has only just broken into the top 50 and has yet to win a WTA Tour singles title but Alexander pointed to Stosur's performance when she lost narrowly to Molik in last month's Sydney tournament final.
"When we saw Sam play Alicia in the final of the Sydney event, where she lost 7-5 in the third and was within a couple of points of winning, a lot of people said that Alicia will be the world's No.1," Alexander said.
"Well Sam is only 20, so I'll make the assumption right now that Sam will make No.1 in the world, too."
Should he be proved correct it would be a remarkable turnaround for Australian women's tennis, so long in the doldrums and with the Fed Cup team facing a long haul to break back into the elite World Group, starting with the Asia/Oceania Zone Group One tie in India.
"She (Stosur) is full of confidence and her form is outstanding," Alexander said.
Joining Stosur in the squad is Fed Cup stalwart Nicole Pratt, Evie Dominikovic and newcomer Bryanne Stewart.
Alexander gave his blessing to Molik skipping the tie – as she did the one that saw Australia relegated last year before she began her great run of form at the Olympics.
With few ranking points to defend in the first half of the year, she has a great opportunity to storm through the top 10.
"By agreement, Alicia is not going to play this first match," Alexander said.
"Alicia has a real opportunity to achieve a No.1 world ranking."
"She has a particular schedule designed to do that. The Fed Cup is an awkward date and the geographical location for these first events it really would have stuffed up the first part of her year.
"When all things considered Tennis Australia has to consider looking after our players wholistically and when someone has a great opportunity like this we have to be behind them."
Stosur said that she wouldn't be overawed by the pressure of leading the squad in Molik's absence.
"I'm going to go out there and handle it like any other match," Stosur said.
"Whether she was here or not or if I'm the No.1 (Australian) player or No.2 doesn't really matter.
"You've got to take every match as it comes and that's what I'll be doing."
The promising Queenslander said the final against Molik in Sydney had given her plenty of confidence for the season ahead.
"It was only my second appearance in a final and it was a new experience, but it was great for me," Stosur said.
"Playing her and doing as well as I did I was quite pleased, but I was disappointed I couldn't get the win after coming so close. I'm just going to learn from it.
"I've had a great run and I'm pretty confident right now."
Dominikovic, who returns to national duties after overcoming chronic fatigue syndrome, will have first-hand knowledge of the local conditions after returning yesterday from an Indian tournament.
Australia's tie against India is the first step towards the World Group.
Alexander hopes to propel his squad back into the second tier of nations by next year, but a main draw birth won't be possible until 2007, at best.
Should the Australians prevail against India, Molik is "almost certain" she will rejoin the squad for the team's next tie.
"She sent a fax to the team wishing us all the best ... she loves playing Fed Cup," Alexander said.