Stosur’s hoping for hometown success
THE cameras were rolling and the photographers were clicking as Australia's highest world-ranked player Sam Stosur talked tennis before next week's Brisbane International.
As she held court with journalists beside centre court, a legend of the game walked almost unnoticed through the upper complex, hair neatly tied back, and wearing a yellow top and white skirt.
The walk was distinctive, as was her magical tennis game before she retired from the tour several years ago with more than $20 million in prizemoney and millions more in sponsorships.
Martina Hingis, who won 43 singles titles, including seven Grand Slam titles, the first as the youngest ever champion, finishing with a wonderful career-winning strike rate of 80% in one of the best eras of women's tennis, is back in Brisbane.
The 34-year-old Swiss ace will partner explosive server Sabine Lisicki in the doubles and remind everyone what an incredible player she once was.
But it was Brisbane favourite Stosur who held the spotlight this time as she prepared to win the tournament as an unseeded player.
The hard-hitting 2011 US Open champion, who looked extremely fit, faced many of the usual media inquiries about whether this would be the year she broke through in the Australian Open and got the hometown monkey off her back.
She has opted to take the tough sudden-death road of the Brisbane International instead of a guaranteed two or three Hopman Cup matches to ready herself for her latest Open assault.
She believes winning Brisbane will be a real challenge.
"I wanted to put myself in that knockout situation in a real tournament situation," she said, explaining her decision to skip the Hopman Cup.
"Given I am from Queensland, you don't get too many opportunities to play at home.
"It's a nice chance to come back and play at this great place and feel the love from the local crowd."
"I'm unseeded - what am I 21 in the world - that's pretty rough but that's the way it goes, that's fine and I will be certainly ready to play my first match.
"Hopefully I am one of those floating players that nobody really wants to come up against.
Defending men's champion Lleyton Hewitt is in the same boat, going into the tournament unseeded.
So, the big question which pops up every year's end for Stosur, is can she break her Australian Open drought?
"It would be nice. I'd like to have my best Aussie Open finish ever wherever that may be," she said with a smile.
"I'll certainly be giving it my best shot."
World ranking: 22
Career singles titles: 6 WTA, 4 ITF
Grand slam singles titles: US Open 2011