After years of carrying the hopes of a nation at the Australian Open, Samantha Stosur is still getting her head around the lower expectations that accompany her twilight years in the sport.
The 36-year-old received a wildcard entry into her 19th Australian Open and remains as driven as ever.
“It’s different for sure and sometimes I still battle within myself with whatever that expectation is at the time,” Stosur said.
“Because any player still expects high things of themselves – no matter what your ranking, your age, how long you’ve been there.
“It’s still probably just a work in progress, but there’s not a lot of expectation and if you can kind of drop that away, keep the expectation low and give more out there, then that’s going to be the best way to be.
But it’s tough because I know what I still feel like I’m capable of, and it’s a matter of bringing that every single day.”
Stosur has relished the shift in perspective that has come with motherhood, having taken most of 2020 off after her partner Liz Astling gave birth to daughter Evie in June.
“Even the first few weeks coming back, when I did start practising again, I’m literally rocking up not a minute before, and not staying a minute after what I need to because I just wanted to be home,” the former US Open champion and world No.4 said.
“It certainly does change your perspective. Something is then all of a sudden more important and you want to spend every single second with them, if possible.
Stosur faces fellow Aussie Destanee Aiava in the first round on Tuesday and, while still uncertain if her 19th Open campaign will be her last, plans to give it her all.
“It may well be – but I haven’t said ‘2021’s going to be my last Open’ or anything like that. I don’t know, basically,” she said.
“But I’m going to try and if I can play it like it is (my last one) and that turns out really well – then that’s a great thing.”
While Stosur does not start her 2021 Australian Open campaign until Tuesday, nine of her compatriots including Nick Kyrgios are in action on the opening day.
Kyrgios plays Portuguese qualifier Frederico Ferreira Silva, while fellow former grand slam quarter-finalist John Millman is up against rising Frenchman Corentin Moutet.
Bernard Tomic, Alex Bolt, Marc Polmans, James Duckworth, Aussie women’s No.2 Ajla Tomljanovic and wildcards Kimberly Birrell and Lizette Cabrera also hit the courts on Monday.
World No.1 Ash Barty and men’s 21st seed Alex de Minaur are among 14 locals playing on Tuesday in the biggest Australian representation at the Open in 21 years.
Australians in action on day one
Men’s singles, first round
Nick Kyrgios v Frederico Ferreira Silva (POR)
John Millman v Corentin Moutet (FRA)
Marc Polmans v Marton Fucsovics (HUN)
Alex Bolt v Norbert Gombos (SVK)
Bernard Tomic v Yuichi Sugita (JPN)
James Duckworth v Damir Dzumhur (BIH)
Women’s singles, first round
Ajla Tomljanovic v Misaki Doi (JPN)
Kimberly Birrell v Rebecca Marino (CAN)
Lizette Cabrera v 2-Simona Halep (ROM)