The last remaining Australian at the French Open, Samantha Stosur, believes her claycourt game is as red hot as it was when she stormed to the final six years ago.
Stosur wound back the clock with a stirring three-set victory over 11th seed Lucie Safarova, a finalist in Paris last year and a player Stosur has historically struggled against.
Following the 6-3 6-7 (0-7) 7-5 win – just her fourth against the 11th seed Safarova from 15 matches – Stosur declared it was a welcome return to the sort of form which took her to the 2010 final against Francesca Schiavone and the semi-finals in 2009 and 2012.
“I think that’s just as good as those matches I played beating the quality opponents I beat in those years,” said Stosur, who will make her fifth appearance in the fourth round.
“I feel like today was a really good step up again in level, and right from the start I don’t feel like I really dipped a point here or point there.
“But on the whole, that’s probably as good as I have played here for many years.
“…I said to everyone after the match, I was like, `Jeez, I can’t remember being so happy to win third round’. It means a lot.”
Stosur, who took a left wrist injury into the tournament, said it had not been a problem through her three victories to date.
“Again, no problem (with the wrist). I thought I hit my backhand really well today,” she said.
“I’ve still iced it (and) I’m going to do everything I need to do again.
“But not for one second did I think about it or hesitate to hit a ball because of that wrist.”
Stosur come out swinging in the first set, playing freely and cashing in on some cheap service games.
Having been broken seven times across her first two matches, Stosur had not been able to rely on her serve to get out of trouble – but had still found a way to win.
That changed on Friday, with the 32-year-old sending down seven aces in the opening set – and 14 in total – while dropping just one point in her first three service games.
“It certainly got me out of a few tricky situations,” Stosur said.
“A lot of break points, I was able to serve my way out, which was great.
“I really backed myself with my serve today. Right from the first game I knew I was feeling good.
“I was able to keep making good decisions all the way through.
“Playing someone like her where you often feel a lot of pressure, to be able to do that was really pleasing.”
Stosur admitted the challenge presented by Halep, who crushed the Australian 6-2 6-0 in the semi-finals in Madrid last month, was sizeable.
And she intends to wipe that result from her mind before she takes the court on Sunday.
“I’m going to (put it away),” she said.
“I’m not going to think too much – obviously go back and remember … why I really fell apart.
“But I’m not going to lose too much sleep over that match going into this next one in a couple of days time.”