One of the most prominent memories I have from Sam Stosur’s 2010 claycourt run has actually nothing to do with her actual tennis. It was the way she rhythmically marched around the courts between points as if she owned every court, every stadium and every person in them. And she played accordingly, smashing past her opponents with brute force and embarking on the best run of tournaments in her career.
But this year? Not so much. Both the form and march of old are long gone, and so far in 2011 her walk has been complimented accordingly by ever-slouching and shrugging shoulders as she has fallen to a slew of lesser opponents. It was a similar story in her first round match today against MJMS – after powering to a first set 4-1 lead, that lack of confidence quickly caught up with her after a couple of loose shots. Soon she was spraying errors and quickly lost four out of five games to find herself locked in a bitter first set struggle.
However, unlike so many times this year, she did manage to find a way through. At 5-5 deuce, out of nowhere came two blistering winners to secure the break, and then she served out the set with ease. From that point onwards, she radiated with the confidence as she bludgeoned forehand winners from everywhere and anywhere in the court, closing out the second set and match 7-6 6-2 with apparent ease.
Up next for her is Daniela Hantuchova. If she values her place in the top 10, she damn well better win that one.