Stosur ready for Henin
AAP – Sam Stosur must not only overcome claycourt supremo Justine Henin but a hostile Roland Garros crowd in her crunch fourth round match at the French Open.The mighty Belgian booked the clash, which is likely to be played on Monday, following her tense 6-2 3-6 6-3 victory over Russian Maria Sharapova in Sunday’s rain-delayed centre court encounter.
The win stretched the feisty baseliner’s unbeaten streak at Roland Garros to 25 matches and she has not been defeated at the tournament since 2004.
Henin has long been a crowd favourite in Paris, having won the title three times in a row between 2005 and 2007 before missing the 2008 and 2009 editions during her premature retirement.
Stosur said she felt perfectly prepared to take on the 22nd seed even if Henin is having a ball in her return to Paris.
“I think I am ready to play,” she said.
“I have had three good matches and you have to be ready to play them at any stage.
“I am looking forward to it.”
Henin demonstrated her resilience against Sharapova by recovering from 0-2 and 0-40 down on serve in the final set to eventually dismiss the three-time major winner.
Stosur and Henin have only met once before with the Belgian winning the final of the WTA event in Stuttgart in three sets earlier this month.
“I definitely picked up a few things that she keeps doing throughout the whole match which I am going to have to be aware of, even if I have the momentum,” said Stosur
“I have to be aware that she will keep on swinging and go for it, if anything I have to raise my level a bit.”
Stosur, a semi-finalist at Roland Garros last year, felt she was finding her groove at the right time after blowing away Russian qualifier Anastasia Pivovarova 6-3 6-2.
The Queenslander was at her methodical best in the 62-minute victory, landing 77 per cent of her first serves in an encouraging sign before taking on the persistent Henin.
The 26-year-old Australian rated it her best performance of the tournament.
“It is going to be exciting and these are the matches that you look forward to,” she said.
“These are the matches, you want to play champions and I have to expect a very tough match.
“But I still have to go in believing I can win and believe in my ability and think I have a chance.”
Stosur has not met a top 100 player in Paris yet but her form line can’t be questioned.
She has won 17 of 19 matches on clay and is playing with real belief following her breakthrough run here last year.
Stosur said she knew exactly what to expect from the likes of Henin.
“They can come back from the brink of defeat, you definitely have not won a match until you have won that match point,” she said.