Is it Stosur's time to shine?
Stosur 'plays like a man'
After her devastating French Open loss, Dominika Cibulkova accuses Sam Stosur of playing like a man.
When Samantha Stosur won last year’s US Open tennis championship, she didn’t just beat Serena Willliams. She slayed the demons of doubt in her head which, according to the experts, had held her back for years.
Tonight Stosur plays the Italian Sara Errani for a place in the French Open final on Saturday. She has a 5-0 record over Errani, including a straight sets victory on the red clay of Rome only last month.
Of course, two years ago Stosur was beaten in the final at Roland Garros by another Italian, Francesca Schiavone. Stosur didn’t play badly that day – Schiavone played the match of her life, and it was hard to begrudge the then 29-year-old journeywoman her moment of triumph.
But that might as well have been a lifetime ago for Stosur.
Because for all of her excruciating fitness, strength and balance training and for all of the constant travel, Stosur has won just three WTA tournaments in her career – yet here she sits again two matches from another major. It may have something to do with the fact that few tournaments, like this one, are played on claycourts. Despite the hardcourt win in New York, clay remains Stosur’s best surface.
Her temperament at this tournament has been noticeable for the lack of emotion she has shown on court. While other women are grunting with every shot, and whingeing and throwing their arms about when something doesn’t go their way, Stosur marches back to her spot, ready for the next point, game face firmly fixed. In Melbourne this year where, despite having 22 million people on her side, she lost in the first round, her body language was all wrong: head down and a forlorn look on her face. She put her failure at the Australian Open down to not being able to cope with the home crowd expectations. If the laidback crowd in Paris that watched her quarter-final against Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova is any indication, no such pressure exists there.
Stosur has got through to tonight’s semi-final without dropping a set, nor dropping her shoulders nor expression. She has lost a few service games – but with a forehand to die for hasn’t had any trouble recovering the break.
Should she make it through to Saturday also, Maria Sharapova, the world No.2, would prove Stosur’s toughest opponent. Unlike Stosur, who is ranked No.6, Sharapova has never made a French Open final; and she has lost one set on her way through this time in Paris. But the French is the one grand slam title Sharapova does not have: her desire will be no less than Stosur’s.
It is a shame that Stosur has not had more success at Roland Garros. At 28, at the height of her strength and physical superiority, this is an opportunity she will not want to waste.
No matter what the rankings say, Williams is the best player of this generation. If Stosur can beat Williams in her home slam then she can beat anyone. The difference now is that she knows she can.