Finishing inside the top-100 for the 15th straight year in 2018, the Australian veteran Samantha Stosur had taken an early preparation for the new season in Melbourne, starting to work with a childhood coach Nick Watkins and hoping to stay in the top-100 as long as possible.
The start of the new season was not that good, though, winning just one main draw match in the opening five events before the better performance in Miami where she reached the third round. Sixteen years after making Fed Cup debut in 2003, Samantha will have a chance to defend the national colors again versus Belarus in the World Group semi-final between April 20-21, joining Ashleigh Barty, Daria Gavrilova and Priscilla Hon in a stern test against Aryna Sabalenka, Victoria Azarenka and Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
Samantha has played 54 Fed Cup rubbers for Australia, winning 36 of those and all seven she played in doubles rubbers. “Like I told Alicia and Pratty at the start of the year when I said I wasn’t going to be able to play that first tie, I was not ruling out the rest of year,” Stosur said.
“Playing Doha and Dubai in February, where my ranking’s at, I felt like I couldn’t play those events. If I didn’t, I pretty much wouldn’t have been playing for five weeks from the Australian Open until Indian Wells.
And that’s not something you can do when you’re ranked 70 and trying to keep yourself in the main draws. I needed to give myself that opportunity. This time around, yes I missed Charleston, probably my favorite tournament of the year, but it’s a good chance for me to come home, we’re in the semifinals, and I’ve wanted to play – it’s never about not wanting to play Fed Cup.
This time around, this can be the priority, and that’s what I want to do. That triumph over Madison Keys was my first against the top-20 rival in a couple of years and back-to-back wins on a hard court in quite a while as well in the main draw.
I just felt my tennis was at a pretty good level but what probably won the match was my mental capabilities. It’s going to be tough to win because Belarus has a good quality team. There’s going to be no easy match, I don’t think, and it may well come down to the last doubles match. And if it does, that’ll be pretty exciting”.