Grand Sam chasing Roland Garros glory
Sam Stosur says she feels comfortable about taking over Lleyton Hewitt’s mantle as the nation’s No.1 tennis player at this week’s French Open.
Whenever a Grand Slam has rolled around for much of the past decade, the primary thought for Australian fans has been Hewitt’s draw.
But that has all changed in the past 12 months as Stosur has climbed to No.7 in the world rankings and Hewitt has battled with the unfortunate combination of injury and early meetings with Roger Federer at majors.
Stosur – who opens against Romanian qualifier Simona Halep – is now very much Australia’s great tennis hope and believes she has to come to terms with her new status before the action starts in earnest at Roland Garros on Sunday.
“Yeah I have always kind of said if you get to that point, then you have got to enjoy it,” she told AAP at a Lacoste clinic.
“I have played my whole life to get here.
“But if all of a sudden you get there then you don’t enjoy it … then what is the point?
“I will just take it as it comes and I just have to remember what my job is and that is to go out and play good tennis.
“It is not a burden … let’s put it that way.”
No Australian woman has won a singles title at Roland Garros since 1973 – or a singles major of any sort in 30 years – but Stosur believes she is firmly in the mix this time around.
“Absolutely, it has been a dream of mine to win a Grand Slam … maybe now I am in a position to try to do that,” said last year’s French Open semifinalist.
She felt her success at the relatively mature age by female tennis standards of 26 could prove a blessing.
“I am a little bit older and a little more mature and wise and everything else,” she said.
“I am here at this age and I don’t really care. I am here and I have made it and I am playing well and enjoying it.
“Maybe I can handle that all a bit better than a 19 year old.
“I would have hated to be a 19 year old who did it and at 23 not playing anymore.”
Considering she is the seventh seed, Stosur could feel a bit short-changed from the draw that has pitched her in a likely fourth-round clash against claycourt dynamo Justine Henin and potential quarterfinal with world No.1 Serena Williams.
But the Gold Coast player said if she had to win it the hard way, then so be it.
“At the end of the day there are 128 players in the draw and you are going to have to play seven of them whoever they are,” she said.
“You can’t take anything for granted there are always funny results at Grand Slams.
“You have to just try to knuckle down.”
Her coach Dave Taylor says she is in much better nick than last year when she came within a set of the title decider.
“Last year she had won two matches on clay coming into the tournament and this year she has won 14 so she is in better shape,” he said.