Samantha Stosur’s US Open prospects have soared, with a mass exodus of stars blowing the women’s draw wide open.
With only three top-10 players making the last 32, Serena Williams’ odds of completing the first calendar-year grand slam sweep have shortened dramatically.
But so too have Stosur’s after Australia’s 2011 champion stormed through her opening two matches in barely two hours and for the for the loss of just nine games.
Stosur knows the road ahead contains some old potholes.
But with fourth seed and two-time finalist Caroline Wozniacki the latest big gun ousted from her section, Stosur is cautiously confident about her big opportunity to reach a grand slam quarter-final for the first time since her New York title defence in 2012.
“My first two matches have been really good,” said Australia’s 22nd seed.
“But there is no guarantee it’s going to happen the next day you go on court.
“You have to keep working on it and not take anything for granted and know that it’s a new match and a new day and a new opponent and everything else.
“But if you could be in the third round having played the way that I have played, I’d certainly take it.
“It certainly helps knowing that you have played some of your best tennis of your career over a two-week period on these courts and these conditions.
“Winning a grand slam is not easy, but knowing that you have actually done that certainly gives you confidence.
“Then when you do come back each year and you feel like you’re playing well, it’s a nice thing to kind of feed off.
“It’s always nice to come back to New York and play, especially having the 2011 result.”
Next up on Saturday (Sunday AEST) for Stosur is Sara Errani, the 16th-seeded Italian who shattered the Queensland’s hopes of French Open redemption with a shock semi-final win in Paris three years ago.
Errani also beat Stosur at the 2012 Tour Championships, but the Australian leads their career series 5-2 and routed the Italian on the Flushing Meadows hard courts in 2010.
“We have played quite a few times and the last couple of times she’s beaten me. There have been some pretty big matches,” Stosur said.
“But this is different. Again, another situation and a court that I feel like I match up well against her on.
“It’s still going to be a tough match playing her given our history and some of the long battles we have had.”
An ailing Errani had to overcome a headache and fever in a battling three-set second-round win over Latvian Jelena Ostapenko on Thursday.
“It’s everything. The air conditioning here is very dangerous,” Errani said.
“I hope to recover good. Yes, of course really tough. Sam here is always playing very good, so it would be tough, for sure.”
The victor will face either Italy’s 25th seed Flavia Pennetta, a nemesis of Stosur’s, or Wozniacki’s conquerer, Czech Petra Cetkovska, on Monday for a place in the final eight.