Samantha Stosur; Getty Images

Sam earns Wuhan wildcard, aiming for strong finish to 2018

Sam Stosur will begin her Asian swing on a good note after receiving a main-draw wildcard for next week’s WTA Wuhan Open.

The Australian will then play in Beijing and Hong Kong as she looks to close her 2018 season on a high.

Stosur was expecting to play qualifying in both Wuhan and Beijing before receiving the news that she had been elevated to the main draw at the former.

“We came here ready to play quallies but to get a wildcard is very exciting. It’s really good to be in the main draw here so I’m very appreciative and what a great opportunity for me – it’s another chance to play the best of the best,” said Stosur, the 2011 US Open champion.

“The women’s tour is so strong now and there are so many good players that you’ve got to be ready to go right from the first round. Now I have a few extra days to prepare.”

Stosur is currently ranked No.67, having endured a somewhat lean year; with a win-loss record of 22-25, she is on track to record more losses than wins in a single season since 2003.

She went 2-5 in the US summer hard court season and most recently suffered a first-round loss to No.2 seed Caroline Wozniacki at the US Open.

Yet the 34-year-old remains upbeat and feels motivated to tackle this last segment of the season, which she says will be far less taxing than her most recent, and lengthy, stint away from home.

“(I’m feeling) pretty good. Obviously you always want more – I say that every single time I do interviews (laughter). But aside from one or two players, everybody’s got that same idea,” Stosur said.

“It’s just another good opportunity to try and win as many matches as possible. I’m (still) in quallies in Beijing; you’ve got to do a lot to really gain out of it. But it’s a good challenge for me.

“This last trip of mine, I hadn’t been home to Australia for five months. So I was really excited to be playing through to the end of the US Open, but it was certainly nice knowing that I’m coming home now, because I’ve been away for so long. Even though it’s only for a week.

“I’m obviously still in that mode of playing, which is good to be able to leave next week and then play these last few events. Going away for three weeks to Asia is going to seem like the easiest trip ever.”

Stosur did enjoy a recent upswing in fortunes on the doubles court, advanced to the semifinals of the US Open with China’s Zhang Shuai.

The Queenslander is an accomplished doubles player; from 2005 to 2011 she won two Grand Slam women’s titles and reached a further five finals, and rose to world No.1 in 2006.

In later years she has focused more on singles and in 2018 she has played just four doubles events.

Yet she said she aims to play more with Zhang next season.

“Not playing doubles as much this year isn’t necessary always because I haven’t wanted to play. My ranking was like 800 before the French Open,” she laughed.

“And then when Pav (Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova) and I won a round there I went to like 400 or 380 or something, and now I’m back to top 100 now from this (US Open) result.

“Part of not playing was because I was trying to focus on singles, but a lot of that was because I’m in quallies of more tournaments now, and it’s really hard to play doubles when you’re in quallies the next week. I would have loved to play (doubles) in Montreal and Cincinnati, but scheduling wise it made no sense to even try and play.

“Now that I’ve got a decent doubles ranking again it might allow me to get into a few more events. And that’d be good – when I can play dubs I really like it.

“I think for Shuai and I, we’ve played on and off for a few years and that was obviously by far our best result (at the US Open), so it was nice that we were able to put it together and kind of be like, oh, yeah, we can play really well together – when you focus more on it, wow, look what we can do.”