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, alongside amazing results in doubles.
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. Stosur had a chance to practice with Gavrilova on Pat Rafter Arena on Monday and speak about the upcoming Belarus clash that should be anything but easy, considering the strength of the European squad.
Still, Samantha is confident about the chances of the home team in front of the partisan crowd, with a top-10 star Ashleigh Barty as the leader of the pack after outstanding results so far in 2019. “I’m playing pretty well at the moment and there are always things to be working on, which I’m constantly doing, and you’re trying to bring that out into these matches,” Stosur said.
“I think in a scenario like Fed Cup, it can certainly bring out the best in me – I’ve had some excellent wins in Fed Cup and always enjoy the experience. If I’m called on to play, I’ll certainly be enjoying that moment and trying to make the most of that opportunity.
Ashleigh Barty is coming off her win in Miami that was incredible – that’s a massive tournament, as big as it gets outside of the Slams. For her to win there, I’m sure she’s feeling pretty confident now, even more so that what she was — she had a great Australian summer as well.
I think the rest of us in the team can try and ride on Ash’s back a little bit with how well she’s playing. She’s the No.1 player in our team for a good reason; top-10 in the world. There’s a lot for her to be proud of as an individual, but also for the team, to have someone like her leading the way for us.
Hopefully, it’s third-time lucky playing in Brissy for us. It is always nice to be playing at home but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you guarantee that win by any means. Belarusian players are going to be tough to beat.
They have a good team with many players in the top-60. Azarenka is the multiple Grand Slam champion and there is a lot of depth on their side. Considering the ranking, our teams are pretty even and it is going to be hard to make the difference on the court, we will have to bring our best tennis to reach the final”.