Sam Stosur Shows Us More Magic
It’s shaping up to be a fairytale. The French Open 2010 has heralded a break-through for a modest, down-to-earth lass from Australia who has more fire in her belly than any of us ever gave her credit for. Even the most uneducated spectator could see that she possesses a good serve and a stinging, ferocious forehand, but nobody thought she was capable of the destruction she has wrecked upon the top seeds this fortnight. Sam Stosur has blasted away Justine Henin, Roland Garros favourite, and Serena Williams, world number one, in back to back matches. More importantly though, is the way Stosur has won. She has held her nerve better than her opponents, blasting away her reputation as a ‘choker’.
Stosur toppled Williams last night in a nerve-wracking three setter. The final score, 8-6, displays how close the match was. Williams was awful in the first set, dropping it quickly to Stosur who really didn’t have to play anything beyond her average game. The second set was different. Stosur served for the match at 5-4 but Williams prepared to launch herself for an epic comeback. She broke and held, eventually finding herself in a tiebreak. It was then Stosur that was under siege. Williams was finding the lines and letting out huge, determined, screams. If Stosur was rattled she didn’t show it. She dropped the second set, but it was clear she wasn’t going to let Williams run away with the third.
The third set showed off brilliant shot-making and mentality from both players. There was an exchange of breaks at the start until the women found a way to fight. It was like a battlefield, and the audience could be forgiven for thinking that Williams, the hardened warrior, her blue and green almost like the bright colours of a poisonous animal, would manage to rattle the quiet Australian. This sense of inevitability was heightened when Williams found herself at match point on Stosur’s serve in the tenth game. Stosur saved it with a big serve and a brave venture to net, watching with relief as Williams’s backhand pass sailed wide. Remarkably Stosur found a way into the Williams service game at 6-6. She broke and did the unthinkable, she served out the match without a single falter.
Stosur finds her way into the semi-finals of Roland Garros once again, but this time with two huge scalps under her belt and boosted confidence. This isn’t to say her next match will be any easier. She may not be coming up against a Grand Slam champion in Jelena Jankovic, but she will be coming up against a very different kind of player. Jankovic will run down many more balls than Henin and Williams and Stosur will have to be stingy with errors. Jankovic will have as much determination as Stosur, both of them fighting for a shot at the title. Stosur acknowledged this in her latest press conference:
“I’m still gonna have to play the way I want to play: be aggressive and do what I want to do and try and dictate to her a little bit more. I know she’s gonna hit tons and tons of balls in. I have to be prepared to be patient and wait for my opportunity a bit more.”
As Stosur prepares for tonight’s semi-final she must be aware that she is now the favourite to take the title. Of course, she plays it down in typical modest fashion. “I made it to this point last year. If I can try and go another set further, then that would be great.” Great would be an understatement. If she wins she will be the first Australian woman to lift a Grand Slam trophy in thirty years. What an end that would be to this fairytale.