Stosur eyes claycourt season with relish after slow start

Indian Wells: The claycourt season cannot come soon enough for Australia`s Samantha Stosur after flourishing on that surface last year to produce her most successful campaign as a professional.

Long regarded as a `doubles specialist`, Stosur reignited her slow-burning singles career with a series of glittering displays on clay culminating in her first grand slam final at the French Open.

Although beaten at the last hurdle by Italy`s Francesca Schiavone, the Australian ended 2010 ranked sixth in the world, having won her second WTA Tour title at the Family Circle Cup in April.

This season, Stosur has posted a mediocre 6-6 singles record but believes she is close to recapturing her best form.

"I actually think I am playing just as well as this time last year, if not hopefully a little bit better," the 26-year-old told reporters while preparing for her first match at the Indian Wells WTA tournament where she is seeded fourth.

"I just haven`t had the results so far this year. I have a lost a few tight matches and all that but I guess that means that hopefully it`s just around the corner."

"You fix a few points here and there throughout matches, you get through those and then all of a sudden you have had a really good year compared to a mediocre one."

Stosur, who has a fiercely kicking serve and a forehand ranked among the most powerful in the women`s game, has always enjoyed playing on clay.

"My game definitely suits it," she said. "The last couple of years I`ve played well on that surface. I`ve got a couple of good lead-up tournaments before the French Open and I would really like to do well there again."

"I would like to try and get myself in that same position again and try and go one better. There is a long way to go at the start of a grand slam before you are winning the tournament but that is definitely a big goal of mine for this year."

Stosur beat four-times champion Justine Henin in the fourth round of last year`s French Open and world number one Serena Williams in the last eight before crushing Jelena Jankovic 6-1, 6-2 to reach the final.

However, she was outfoxed 6-4, 7-6 in the championship match by world number 17 Schiavone, who became the first Italian woman to win a grand slam title.

Now ranked fourth in the world, Stosur will meet either Germany`s Angelique Kerber or Spaniard Laura Pous-Tio in the second round on the hardcourt surface at Indian Wells on Saturday.

Bureau Report

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