Stosur faces tough test in Sydney

Samantha Stosur is relishing an “old-school” test of her Australian Open credentials after declaring herself fit and ready for the season-opening grand slam at Melbourne Park.

Stosur on Saturday trained for the first time after having a scan on her injured right wrist and said she hit without pain, just mild discomfort, after drawing US Open finalist Roberta Vinci in the first round of the Sydney International.

“I had a really good practice,” said the Australian No.1.

“This is the first time I’ve hit in three days so it was pretty good. Still not 100 per cent but I was happy with it.

“Everything else feels great. I felt like Brisbane I was playing well and I’ve still been able to get stuck into my fitness work the last few days, so I’ve been trying to do as much on court stuff without being on court.

“Today I didn’t feel like I had lost too much, so that was a good feeling.

“I’m confident I’ll be on court on Monday and be as close to as good as possible.”

Stosur could barely have copped a worse draw for her final Open lead-up event.

Vinci, at No.15 in the world, is the highest-ranked unseeded player in the quality Sydney field and the dubious reward for the victor is a second-round showdown with second seed and newly crowned WTA Championships winner Agnieszka Radwanska.

First things first, though, and Stosur’s immediate focus is on conquering Vinci, the wily Italian veteran who famously derailed Serena Williams’ calendar-year grand slam quest at Flushing Meadows in September.

“She’s a tricky opponent and everyone saw what she was able to do to Serena and make the US Open final,” Stosur said.

“She’s kind of an old-school player. She likes to slice, she doesn’t put too much pace, she puts the ball in good positions for her to make her way into the net.

“Tactically, she really understands her tennis and that’s hard to play against because she’s going to try and put the ball where it’s good for her – and I’ll do the same.

“It’s not just blast tennis and see what happens. She’s experienced so I’ll have to play well.

“But everybody in the draw is good so no matter who you play, it will be hard.”

In-form countryman Bernard Tomic fared significantly better than Stosur at Saturday’s draw, enjoying a bye first round as the men’s top seed.

The 2013 champion and 2014 runner-up looks to have a relatively smooth passage to the semi-finals, although he could run into fellow Australian Jordan Thompson in the second round and Davis Cup teammate Sam Groth in the quarters.

Groth plays Argentine claycourt specialist Federico Delbonis in his opener, while wildcard Thompson takes on Slovakian Martin Klizan.

Fellow Australian Daria Gavrilova landed in Stosur’s tough quarter of the draw and takes on a qualifier first up.

Victorian Tammie Paterson meets dual grand slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in a baptism of fire.


Men’s singles

1-Bernard Tomic – bye

Jordan Thompson v Martin Klizan (SVK)

Sam Groth v Federico Delbonis (ARG)

Women’s singles

Samantha Stosur v Roberta Vinci (ITA)

Daria Gavrilova v qualifier

Tammie Paterson v Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)

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