April 18, 2010

Playing at Her Prime

It took a while for Sam Stosur to win her first title -- the twenty-six year old had been pro for about a decade before claiming that inaugural trophy in Osaka last year, but seeing her play in the Charleston finals today makes you wonder why it took so long. Now ranked #11 in the world, the Australian is playing some of the best tennis in her life. She made the semis in Indian Wells and the quarters in Miami before she took the South Carolina clay by storm.

Sam developed a lead early in most of her matches this week, and today got off to a quick start against Vera Zvonareva in the finals. In about twenty minutes she had captured the first set, bageling her more-decorated opponent and seeming to get under the Russian's skin just a bit. But while Vera threw racquets, (presumably) cussed loudly and took the opportunity to consult her coach on changeovers, Sam remained calm even after dropping back on serve in the second set. She bombed aces that kissed the corners, delivered winners that Zvonareva could barely get her racquet on, and immediately broke back and clinched her second title in the shortest-ever final at this tournament.

At her post-match press conference Stosur opined on her dominant play:

"You have a handful of matches where everything you hit is a good shot or winner and you just kind of can't miss, and they're the days that everyone talks about you're in a zone. It's just a great feeling, and you wish that you could do that every day, but it's not that easy. To be able to do it in a final is all the more pleasing."

It was a nice way to end a successful week. Stosur, the fourth seed here, had never made it past the second round at the Family Circle Cup, but with dominating performances both today and in the semifinals against Daniela Hantuchova on Saturday, she's certainly established herself as a threat for the French Open, where she made the final four last year.

"Whenever you win a title, you want to go into the rest of the season feeling like you can achieve more and win more titles ... If you can win a title in April, that's better than winning it in the last week of the year like I did last year."

And with just a few weeks left before the year's second Grand Slam, you can bet that a few others will be putting Samantha Stosur on their radar now.

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