It’s no secret that grass and Sam Stosur haven’t always been the best of friends. But so far this week, it appears that the two are warming to each other.
“I love it now, so it's all going well. No, I mean, I've got no complaints and no anything. I've really enjoyed playing on it. Kind of makes me think, What was I doing for all that time?” smiled Stosur.
Two matches and two commanding performances, the latest a 6-2, 6-2 dissection of Olga Puchkova, sees Stosur through to the third round equaling her best result at The Championships in 2009.
“I'm feeling pretty good and really pleased with those couple matches. And my whole preparation the whole time I've been on the grass, I feel it's been better. So doing everything I can.
“I think a big part of it was finishing the French, taking care of that, getting away from that, and not bringing anything, good or bad, indifferent, onto here. Kind of really started fresh, and that's probably been one the biggest differences.
“I think in previous years especially a couple of my losses there were really hard for me to take. I probably didn't quite maybe get over those as quickly as I needed to. Then I came here on the grass and found it more difficult and then everything just kind of snowballed.”
While it’s true that Stosur’s kick serve – one of her most dangerous weapons – is partly nullified by the lower bounce on grass courts, there are other parts of her game that suit the courts here particularly well.
Today the Australian moved confidently to the net, icing all 12 approaches – not that this is necessarily a tactic the Australian is counting on.
“I thought I returned very well – when I had an opportunity, take a ball and move forward. Even though I didn't hit too many volleys, the intention to move forward and play aggressive was there.”
It wasn’t just Stosur’s movement that troubled Puchkova today, but also her placement. Stosur’s ability to rip her forehand crosscourt to create some particularly sharp angles caught the Russian out on more than one occasion.
The No.14 seed returned especially well today, regularly putting pressure on the Russian’s serve. In all Stosur had six break-point chances, all of which she confidently converted.
Puchkova also managed to break the normally impenetrable Stosur serve on two occasions. At one stage during the first set, there were five consecutive breaks of serve as both players failed to capitalise on opportunities.
Stosur was the least affected as she had opened up a substantial lead, but for Puchkova it only served to bring her frustration to the surface. Adding to Puchkova’s annoyance were the 22 winners that flew by her, while she could only make eight of her own.
It was a complete performance from Stosur who will now prepare for a third-round match with No.23 seed Sabine Lisicki, which will be a much tougher assignment.
“She's going to have a much bigger serve than the last two players that I've played. She really plays aggressive and, you know, power, power, power really.
“So certainly have to try and combat that. I think a big part of [that] match is gonna be serving. We both have got a big serve and are both going to be going for it. So I think that's going to be a huge thing, of who does that better.”
And should Stosur continue to display the form she’s shown in the opening two rounds, then perhaps grass and the Australian may just take the next step in their relationship from casual acquaintances to good friends.
20:24...But boy, it was a barrow-load of fun. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as we did. Thank you for all your messages throughout, you've been the glue holding us together as the edges frayed amid the madness. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for us Brits to raise a toast to Andy Murray and Fred Perry. British sporting legends both.
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