Samantha Stosur is embracing a third-round showdown with defending champion Maria Sharapova after storming to the most one-sided victory of her French Open career.
Mixing firepower with finesse, Stosur crushed local qualifier Amandine Hesse 6-0 6-1 in just 54 minutes on Wednesday to confirm another Roland Garros rendezvous with Sharapova on Friday.
The two grand slam champions collided in the fourth round last year when Stosur stood within two games of victory before Sharapova powered through the third and deciding set 6-0 en route to her second title in Paris.
“Last year was very close and all of a sudden it was very far away,” Stosur said after reaching the last 32 in Paris for the seventh straight time.
“That’s certainly a position I’d like to try to get in again and hopefully this time if I do get in a position, it won’t fall away so quickly.
“I do feel like I’m playing well. I have had a good lead-up and now I have played another really good match here, and it’s all going to help me going into this next one.”
Despite pushing the Russian powerhouse to three sets, Stosur was struggling for form and confidence this time last year, having contemplated giving the game away only a month earlier.
But fresh of her first title of the season and back with long-time coach David Taylor, who guided the 31-year-old to US Open glory and also her charge to the 2010 final at Roland Garros, Stosur admits she’s in a much happier head space for Sharapova 12 months on.
“Right now I feel like I have really kind of turned a corner, playing the way I know that I can and the way I enjoy and doing the things that obviously make me have good results,” said the 26th seed.
“So that’s a much better place to be than where I was this time last year.”
But Stosur’s confidence can’t mask her galling two-from-16 record against Sharapova, who didn’t seem too fussed to strike the Australian so early in the championships after sweeping past Russian Fed Cup teammate Vitalia Diatchenko 6-3 6-1.
“We faced in the fourth round here last year. I don’t know if there is much of a difference really,” said the world No.2.
“She had a good win last week, I believe. She’s always a tough opponent. She enjoys playing on clay, benefits a lot from this surface. Yeah, it will be a tough match.
“But I have a pretty good record against her. I enjoy our matches. I hope I can continue that.”
While Stosur marched on, fellow Australian Daria Gavrilova’s campaign ended in tears, with the 21-year-old retiring after dropping the first set 6-1 to 20th seed Sabine Lisicki.
The ailing youngster was on the back foot from the get-go against the free-hitting former Wimbledon finalist.
She fought off four break points before finally dropping serve in an epic 10-minute opening game of the match.
Gavrilova eventually called it quits after losing the first set in 29 minutes.