Tennis-With pressure off, Stosur eyes final flourish at Australian Open

  • Tennis
  • Tuesday, 18 Jan 2022

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Australia - 17/1/14 Women's Singles - Australia's Sam Stosur in action during her third round match Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Jason O'Brien Livepic

(Reuters) - For nearly two decades Sam Stosur carried Australian hopes of a first homegrown women's singles champion at Melbourne Park since 1978 and while this year marks her last chance to end that drought she says the pressure is finally off.

Stosur, 37, has never been beyond the fourth round at the Australian Open and world number one Ash Barty has become Australia's favourite to emulate Chris O'Neil and win the first Grand Slam of the year.

However, she got her campaign off to a good start on Tuesday by beating Robin Anderson 6-7(5) 6-3 6-3 in her opener.

The former U.S. Open champion said the decision to finish her singles career after the current edition of the Australian Open has given her added motivation.

"It's sort of easier, because it's kind of like this is your last chance, if you don't do it now, you're never going to have another opportunity to do it," Stosur told reporters.

"Kind of like back is against the wall, this is it. It's probably a bit easier because I've been wanting to try to find that in my tennis for a couple of years.

"When you're chasing something, even though it's not about that, it's always in the back of your mind, got to do well here, your ranking isn't going in the right direction, all that sort of stuff, it doesn't always allow that to happen."

Stosur, who also made the second round at Melbourne Park last year to end a run of five straight first-round exits, next faces 10th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and she says she is pleased with how she is playing.

"I think I'm hitting the ball really well, really clean. Probably some of the best striking I've done for a while," Stosur said.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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