History against Stosur’s French charge

Samantha Stosur knows history as well as last year’s runner-up stand between her and a return to the fourth round at Roland Garros.

The top-ranked Australian female will take on a red-hot Lucie Safarova, who went down to world No.1 Serena Williams in last year’s final, in a nightmare third-round matchup for the 21st seed.

In 14 clashes with the Czech 11th seed, Stosur has emerged victorious on just three occasions – her worst return against active players.

Only Maria Sharapova, currently sidelined indefinitely due to a drug ban, has proved more troublesome to overcome for Stosur.

“It’s a tough matchup,” said Stosur of Safarova who has dropped just six games across her opening two matches.

“She’s probably the person I’ve played the most in my career and she’s never easy to beat. I know that.

“I know I’ve had some really tough losses to her in the past.

“I’ve really got to go out there and play well.

“She’s not going to give it to me – I’m going to have to play very well to play through it.”

The pair most recently clashed in the final in Prague a month ago, with Safarova proving triumphant in three sets.

Stosur, who again showed few signs of being hampered by a left wrist injury she took into this week, says the key to the match will likely be how well she can hold serve.

The 32-year-old has had no trouble earning breaks in her opening two victories, but admits she needs to tidy up her own service games – knowing Safarova will offer fewer opportunities to capitalise.

“I know it’s going to be really important for me to not play loose service games. She’s very hard for me to break,” she said.

“We’ve played a lot of tiebreaks in the matches that we’ve played previously and had some long matches.

“I know the serve is going to be really important for me in this next match, to make really good choices and not give away free points.

“…It’s really important to make good decisions – she hits the ball very well off both sides and the way she can serve, it’s difficult to read.”

Stosur, who has now reached the third round at Roland Garros nine times, rode the momentum of her win against China’s Shuai Zhang – breaking her opponent five times in the 6-3 6-4 victory.

But as she did in her first-up win over Japan’s Misaki Doi, Stosur again found herself down a break early in the second set – but was able to quickly recover on this occasion.

“In the moments where I was down, or in the second set down a break, it was almost like the worse the position I was in, the better I played which I guess is a good thing,” Stosur said.

“You don’t want to be in that position in the first place but when you really had to knuckle down and do it, I was able to. That’s what I’m probably most pleased with.”


Maria Sharapova: 2 win, 15 loss**

Lucia Safarova: 3 win, 11 loss

Victoria Azarenka: 1 win, 9 loss

Serena Williams: 3 win, 8 loss

**Sharapova has been provisionally suspended by the ITF for failing a drug test.

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