James Crabtree is currently in Melbourne Park covering the Australian Open for Tennis Grandstand and is giving you all the scoop directly from the grounds.
By James Crabtree
MELBOURNE — Sam Stosur’s game is incomparable as is her corresponding fitness level. We cannot guess how hard Sam works on court, but from her body alone we can assume she works harder than anyone off it. Just look at Sam’s arms, chiselled to perfection and worthy of any Biggest Loser trainer. Besides the physique, she has the gut wrenching heavy hitting, wrist breaking ripping topspin forehand that includes traces of Nadal D.N.A. Her sharp and crisp volleys are that of a doubles specialist, unmatched on the women’s tour, unmatched since Navratilova. Super Sam has a cutting slice Graf backhand, and an Edberg curling rolling top spin serve that is perhaps the best in the game of either sex.
Now we don’t want to bring up what happened with Jie Zheng or a week earlier with Sofia Arvidsson, but we still want to know what happened.
The question that all assumed was asked. Do you think you choked?
“I don’t know. Whatever word you want to put on it. At 5-2 up in the third, double break probably is a bit of a choke, yeah.”
Sam responded pretty matter-of-factly, when some of us wanted her to lie. She always responds like this, she is always polite and far too honest when we want her to blame something obscure; blame the ankle or an undiagnosed event like a hurting toe.
Yes there has been talk of ankle problems, and then there was the Navratilova comment about her serve that she seemed genuinely hurt by. Additionally she has not won a title since the U.S. and only has 3 career titles while having played in 15 finals.
“I got tight and then you start missing some balls.” Said Sam as we thought to ourselves why wasn’t Jie Zheng getting tight after letting go of a first set advantage.
So what really is going on?
To the majority of Australia it doesn’t make sense, the last three years she has not made it past the third round. Sam won the U.S. Open on a very similar hard court. Now at home in Australia she can’t buy a win.
Besides, these are not the players she should be choking against. These are players who should be choking against her. We can accept a finals loss to Serena or a semi against Sharapova. We cannot accept a second round goodbye.
Why oh why is Sam losing to people she should be double bageling? Why is she giving them so much respect?
Can it all be in the mind?
We never want to bring up the past, because that is going backwards but remember when Sam lost in the 2010 French Open final to Francesca Schiavone, a match that most thought would be hers.
That’s when everyone gave up on Stosur. That was when she was first labelled a choker.
She bounced back. Only a year later Super Sam had become the first Aussie female to capture a Grand Slam since Evonne Goolagong Cawley.
Hopefully what has happened to her in Australia recently is just a blip, bad times before the good.
The days of not believing in Sam Stosur surely cannot be over.