Sam Stosur says she plays better with a few wins under her belt. After a disappointing 2013 Australian summer that saw the world No. 18 player win only a single match through three tournaments (she beat Kai-Chen Chang in the first round in Melbourne), Stosur decided to mix things up in 2014 by skipping Brisbane and Sydney, playing instead with Bernard Tomic at the Hyundai Hopman Cup and then the Hobart International.
Before the start of the Hopman Cup, Stosur said she was “hopeful” things would turn around for her in her home country by the time Melbourne rolls around and said her goal was to get back into the top 10.
“Anything better than the last few years would be a good start,” Stosur said. “I haven’t been able to play my best yet (in Australia) and hopefully this year will be a bit different for me…and hopefully get through and really enjoy my time in Melbourne and play to a standard I’m happy with.”
So far in Perth, she can’t be happy with her standard, losing her first two matches against Eugenie Bouchard and Flavia Pennetta. She’ll try to turn things around for her final match against Agnieszka Radwanska on Wednesday, a player against whom she holds a winning record.
Perhaps the Australian Open moving back to a December date would help Stosur, who finished 2013 with a flourish, winning Osaka before losing both the Moscow and Sofia finals (both against Simona Halep).
“If there were still more of the year to be played, than I would have been happy to keep going,” she said about her 2013 finish. She said she didn’t hit a ball for a month after the year ended and spent three weeks training with her new coach, Miles Maclagan.
Stosur pointed out one reason she hasn’t played well in Australia throughout her career has been the lack of matches heading into the Australian tennis summer.
“I think the start of the year, it’s tough for anyone – nobody has played a lot of matches – but I seem to be one that after I’ve played a few matches I start going and then I get on a bit of a roll and you don’t get that at the start of the year.”
Apart from lack of matches, Stosur said she had also struggled in the past with expectations after her win at the 2011 US Open as well as injuries heading into the 2013 season.
Regardless, she’s eager to play in front of the home crowd once again.
“At the end of the day there’s no better place to play being an Aussie,” Stosur said. “You get the crowd behind you, everyone’s cheering your name and you hit a great shot and everyone goes crazy; you hit a bad shot and it’s kind of like, ‘alright, let’s go and get the next one.’”
“I don’t think anyone would ever say I don’t like playing in front of the home crowd. It’s a great feeling and I just want to do it more and more.”
Follow Samantha Stosur at the Hyundai Hopman Cup.