Super Sam on track for Fed Cup record
Samantha Stosur is fast emerging as the Lleyton Hewitt of Fed Cup after piloting Australia back into the World Group for the first time since 2004.
With 33 match wins, Hewitt is the most successful singles player in Australian Davis Cup history – and now Stosur is on track to become the country’s most prolific singles winner in the women’s equivalent event.
Stosur’s twin victories over Mariya Koryttseva and Lyudmyla Kichenok not only helped Australia to a 5-0 whitewash of Ukraine in the weekend play-off in Kharkiv, but also extended her own remarkable record to 13 straight Fed Cup successes, including 10 in singles.
The world No.10 has quickly established an enviable 25-7 record in the prestigious team competition, including an impeccable 6-0 tally in doubles, and is closing in on Di Ballestrat’s all-time-best 24 singles triumphs for Australia.
Just-turned 26, Stosur – who last lost a match in Fed Cup to Sybille Bammer in Austria three years ago – is just five wins shy of Ballestrat’s record and well placed to rewrite history before her career is out.
While Stosur ultimately clinched the indoor claycourt tie for Australia with her 7-6(4) 6-3 win over Kichenok on Sunday, she modestly deflected praise to Russian-born debutante Anastasia Rodionova.
Rodionova had set Australia on course for the whitewash with a courageous victory from 0-6 0-1 down over Ukraine’s leading player, Alona Bondarenko, in the opening match.
“She definitely put us in a good position yesterday with winning that first one,” Stosur said.
“To be able to come in, play your first tie and now we’re in the World Group, it’s a pretty special time and one that she’s able to be a part of.”
Rodionova, ranked 96th, was making her Fed Cup debut after a five-year wait to become an Australian citizen.
Stosur then accounted for Koryttseva in straight sets to give Australia a 2-0 first-day advantage, before wrapping up the tie in the first reverse singles rubber.
Alicia Molik beat Koryttseva 2-6 6-2 7-5 to make it 4-0 before Rodionova teamed up with Rennae Stubbs to defeat Kichenok and her twin sister Nadiya 6-2 6-7(2) 6-1.
Team captain David Taylor said Rodionova’s victory over the 25th-ranked Bondarenko was a “big kick in the guts” for the home team and he believed Australian women’s tennis was in a healthy position.
“We’ve got Sam in the top 10 this week, Alicia Molik in the top 100, Rodionova making her debut – there is that leadership in the girls and I’m sure it will bring the young ones up,” Taylor told AAP.
“It’s great people can turn on their TV and watch Australia play the US and play Russia and the big guns at the moment in women’s tennis.
“We’ve been very fortunate to have some great men’s players in the Davis Cup and it’s great for the women to come through and have some reward.”
On a high after also winning her maiden claycourt title last week in Charleston, Stosur will now turn her attention to the European season.
She’ll contest Stuttgart this week as she continues her preparations for next month’s French Open, where she will be looking to improve on her semifinal appearance of 2009.
“I was really looking forward to getting on the clay and starting the season,” Stosur said.
“It’s gone very well to plan and hopefully I can keep going for a few weeks more ahead of Roland Garros.”
Taylor, who is also Stosur’s personal coach, said her 19-5 win-loss record for the year stood her in good stead.
“Anyone who is winning four times as many matches as they’re losing is doing something right,” he said.