A free-swinging Samantha Stosur can topple sixth seed Simona Halep and continue her French Open dream in her final tournament alongside David Taylor, the respected coach believes.
The 2010 runner-up will bid for a fourth quarter-final appearance at Roland Garros when she squares off with Halep on Sunday (Sunday night AEST).
Halep, the 2014 runner-up, demolished Stosur in the semi-finals in Madrid last month – winning ten straight games in the 6-2 6-0 thrashing – but Taylor believes things will be different this time.
“She can win, absolutely. She’s beaten Simona before,” Taylor told AAP.
“It was a very ordinary result (in Madrid), but I think she’ll learn a lot from that and you won’t see the same score, definitely not.
“She’ll be much more competitive here. These conditions are great for Sam.”
Stosur rated her impressive three-set third-round win over 11th seed Lucie Safarova as among her finest at Roland Garros, and Taylor agreed.
“That was up there with the best matches I’ve ever seen Sam play on clay – definitely in the top ten matches I’ve seen her play,” he said.
“She’s won a lot of matches on clay this year, and I think that’s just given her the confidence she used to have and everything’s a bit more automated, there’s less doubt there.
“She’s done well to get back to that level.”
The pair will split after the tournament for reasons of geography – with the Europe-based Taylor finding it difficult to keep working with the US-based Stosur.
It will end an eight-year association, across two stints, and Taylor says he’s thrilled at the high level Stosur is playing at for their last hurrah.
“I’ve had a lot of good runs at Roland Garros coaching Sam and I’m just thrilled that she’s having another one of those,” Taylor said.
“She’s been Australia’s best claycourt player, man or woman, for a long time now.”
And he’s encouraged the 32-year-old to keep swinging freely, saying it’s her best chance at causing some shocks against the top seeds.
“You get towards the latter stages of your career and it can work both ways – you can really free up or you can be scared that it’s all going away,” Taylor said.
“I think she’s taking the right attitude – she’s got nothing left to prove and she can have a lot of fun still.
“As long as she’s fit, she can beat anyone.
“And I think she’s got the right attitude that she’s going to keep swinging right to the end.”
Taylor also believes the left wrist injury which forced Stosur to withdraw from Strasbourg in the lead-in to the French Open has had a positive impact on her game.
Stosur was forced to alter her practice – unable to hit her two-handed backhand until the day before her first-round match – which he believes has led to an improvement in her movement on court which was on display in her stirring victory over Safarova.
With only the slice in her arsenal, Stosur had to work harder to stay in rallies on the practice court.
“She mentioned how much more attention she had to pay to be in a good position with the feet because you’re playing just with one defensive stroke,” Taylor said.
“Those things can be beneficial but at this level you need to be able to hit the backhand. Luckily it’s all come good in time.”