Samantha Stosur launches her shortened grasscourt campaign on Monday with her buoyant coach tipping the one-time US Open champion to return to the elite ranks of women’s tennis.
Stosur is 23rd in the world rankings, her lowest standing entering Wimbledon since 2008.
But even with Nick Kyrgios’s meteoric rise and Bernard Tomic climbing to a career-high ranking this month, Stosur is still enjoying an unbroken six-year stint as Australia’s top-ranked tennis player.
It is a feat not even Lleyton Hewitt managed during his accomplished career and after reuniting with David Taylor last month and then netting her first title of the year in Strasbourg to secure a Wimbledon seeding, Stosur feels she’s back in business.
Despite a third-round loss at the French Open to defending champion Maria Sharapova, Stosur has renewed belief after a wretched 18 months enduring injuries, self doubts and two unsuccessful experiments with new coaches.
Taylor, who guided the Queenslander to 2011 US Open glory, the 2010 French Open final and to a career-high ranking of No.4 in the world during their first seven-year union, believes Stosur’s confidence has clearly returned.
“That’s the big turnaround,” he told AAP ahead of Stosur’s Eastbourne opener.
“She’s got no hesitation hitting the ball, no hesitation doing something tactically she’s not comfortable with.
“That was the only thing that was missing there for a while. She’s still very strong. She’s hitting the ball unbelievably.”
With 30 the new 20 in tennis, Taylor believes Stosur turning 31 in March is no obstacle.
“Players are staying longer and are staying so fit,” he said.
“The only thing is if you lose your power. Sam hasn’t at all.
“There’s no reason she can’t get back to the top if she can hit the ball with the same quality of power and that’s what she’s actually doing.
“Serena (Williams) can win by hitting the ball the same way as she did five years ago and there’s no reason why Sam can’t either.”
After an early exit in Rome, Taylor revealed Stosur needed convincing to accept a last-minute wildcard into the Strasbourg claycourt event – where she won four straight matches to lift the trophy – the week before Roland Garros.
“She actually went to Strasbourg to make sure she’d be seeded at Wimbledon because she was defending points in Paris,” he said.
“It took a bit of talking into to do it but what a great decision.”
Now Stosur has tinkered her schedule again in order to maximise opportunities in the hope of making a run towards the season-ending WTA Championships in Singapore, where only the year’s best eight players will feature.
Stosur has made a habit of excelling in late-season events in north America, Asia and the European indoor tournaments, but Taylor commended her for choosing to return to clay beforehand after Wimbledon for the first time.
“She has smartly made a choice to stay on the clay. There aren’t many women claycourt players. She’s one of them,” he said.
“Normally she’s always gone back to Australia, but she’s actually going to stay in Europe and play a tournament in Austria and one in Sweden.
“Serena’s playing one of them – in Sweden – and Sam could get her year back on track by altering her schedule.
“She’s already back up to mid-20s in the race (to Singapore) so she’s back in the game.”