Stosur open, honest but in need of a plan

Luke Doherty Roar Guru

By Luke Doherty, Luke Doherty is a Roar Guru

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    Samantha Stosur takes on Tsvetana Pironkova in the quarter finals of the French Open. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

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    When Same Stosur was asked whether she had “choked” during her loss to China’s Jie Zheng last night, she gave the headline writers the tag they were looking for.

    It was a question Stosur knew was coming and it took just minutes to surface.

    With a sigh she said that the media could put whatever word we wanted on the loss, but after throwing away a 5-2 lead in the deciding set of a grand slam match, it “probably is a bit of a choke, yeah.”

    Jie Zheng has been Stosur’s tormentor this summer.

    Despite being ranked in the 40s, she still managed to knock the local hope out in the first round of the Sydney International just before the Australian Open.

    Stosur had already been tipped out of the Brisbane International in the first round by Swede Sofia Arvidsson and the defeat in Sydney did little to silence the questions relating to her ability to perform in front of a home crowd.

    In an honest news conference last night, Stosur admitted that “crazy things” started popping into her head when Zheng started fighting back. The 28-year-old even went as far as to say the defeat was 100 per cent mental.

    While it’s refreshing to hear such an open appraisal of a performance from an athlete, unless the admission leads to a resolution it’s useless.

    The most troubling aspect of this whole situation is that it keeps repeating itself. Stosur is a player with immense talent and limitless potential. She’s also not mentally fragile all of the time.

    Nobody beats Serena Williams in the final of the US Open at Flushing Meadows without having a fair degree of composure.

    So, why does it happen at home?

    During the cringe-worthy closing stages of the match, where Stosur lost five straight games to seal her exit, she seemed to have lost the owner’s manual.

    There was no apparent re-boot process being followed, just a spiral of errors leading to a seemingly inevitable downfall.

    Now, that’s understandable if this type of collapse was unforseen.

    But Stosur admitted she started thinking about not losing rather than hitting winners.

    The red flags were popping up all over the place, but the path to recovery was non-existent. That is the biggest issue.

    It’s not about the label or the perfect sound-bite. Nobody enjoys seeing an Australian athlete self-destruct like Stosur did yesterday.

    Previously, anyone pointing out her periodic lack of composure was apparently willing her to lose. In fact, the opposite is true.

    People highlight the collapse because they see a player who is capable of running deep into the draw at every tournament.

    Athletes are always asked what they can take from a loss. Some point to a good pass, kick or shot depending on the sport.

    Hopefully, this defeat highlights the need for a more efficient re-boot process. If one is already in place, her camp need to start drafting another one.

    In one sense, athletes who compete in individual sports have it so much tougher, as there’s no-one to blame except themselves. But Stosur is too good a player to endure this continual comedy of errors on home soil.

    What was last night labelled a “choke” should lead to clarity in the future.

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    The Crowd Says (18)

    • January 17th 2013 @ 8:36am
      Chop said | January 17th 2013 @ 8:36am | ! Report

      The interview was harder to watch than the match.

      Everyone saw what happened, why did the media have to go into it over and over again?

      Credit to her for answering the questions as well as she did because I think after the 5th or 6th question I’d have told someone to shove their head somewhere exceptionally inappropriate.

      I feel sorry for Sam, every summer she’s been built up constantly, seemingly just so the newspaper journalist can dance on her ashes when she loses.

    • Roar Guru

      January 17th 2013 @ 10:14am
      sheek said | January 17th 2013 @ 10:14am | ! Report

      Actually Luke,

      I think a plan is the last thing Sam needs.

      She needs to just play each point on its merit & think of nothing else.

      I feel sorry for Sam too. She exposes that weakness in us all. I’m sure if Roarers were brutally honest with themselves, they would squirm watching Sam Stosur because she mirrors our own weaknesses in everyday situations.

      But we don’t have the whole world watching us implode…..

      • January 17th 2013 @ 10:40am
        BennO said | January 17th 2013 @ 10:40am | ! Report

        Yep, well said.

    • January 17th 2013 @ 10:52am
      Minister for Information for the Democratic People's Republic of Football said | January 17th 2013 @ 10:52am | ! Report

      I agree with the above comments.
      She’s clearly got some mental demons to deal with which are affecting her confidence. Everybody has them from time to time.
      I also think she’s very introverted and can’t deal with the media attention and expectations of the public. I can understand her. She’s just a girl that wants to play tennis and make some coin in the process. Is that so wrong? Or do you become property of the state in Australia once you show some form on a tennis court?
      It’s not like she’s one of those 2-bob celebrities whose worlds revolve around media attention. Maybe she needs a lengthy break from the game and the media to clear her head. And maybe we should show some empathy and lay off her.

    • January 17th 2013 @ 11:52am
      Kipper said | January 17th 2013 @ 11:52am | ! Report

      heach coach anyone ?

      • January 17th 2013 @ 12:13pm
        Minister for Information for the Democratic People's Republic of Football said | January 17th 2013 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

        Wow…you had 3 words to spell right and you stuffed it. But thanks all the same.

        • January 17th 2013 @ 12:21pm
          Kipper said | January 17th 2013 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

          damn, you must be bored to correct people’s mistakes and not add any comments to the article

          • January 17th 2013 @ 12:25pm
            Minister for Information for the Democratic People's Republic of Football said | January 17th 2013 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

            see above

            • January 17th 2013 @ 2:10pm
              Christo the Daddyo said | January 17th 2013 @ 2:10pm | ! Report

              Like shooting fish in a barrel.

        • January 17th 2013 @ 4:21pm
          Tlux said | January 17th 2013 @ 4:21pm | ! Report

          awesome

    • January 17th 2013 @ 12:31pm
      Dingo said | January 17th 2013 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

      She looks as though she has plenty of physical strength, (evident by her shoulders and arms) but her mental strength seems to be lacking.
      Within the circus of International tennis, having mental toughness could be the difference between winning and losing, if you don’t have it your opponents would know it and take full advantage of it.

      The question is, how do you overcome the problem?

    • January 17th 2013 @ 2:13pm
      Christo the Daddyo said | January 17th 2013 @ 2:13pm | ! Report

      She clearly has the capacity for mental strength – she has won a Grand Slam after all. But for some reason it’s failing her at the moment. And right now she’s clearly falling into the endless loop of thinking about her issue, which is feeding the poor form, which is causing her to think some more, etc…

      Most athletes seem to go through this sort of thing at one point or another in their career.

      • January 17th 2013 @ 2:45pm
        dasilva said | January 17th 2013 @ 2:45pm | ! Report

        I think her failing of mental strength is more to do with handling expectations which seems to be more of a problem with Australian athletes (happens with James Magnussen at the olympics). The idea that we like to see ourselves as the fighting underdog able to fight above our own weight, however when we start winning more often and become favourites, they are unable to deal with the expectation of success. This combined with Stosur playing at home which compounds expectations led to this situation.

        I think if she was the underdog playing against the likes of Serena Williams, she would more likely to scrap and display mental strength to go over the line. however against an opponent she is expected to beat and that opponent is displaying fighting spirit, that’s when it’s more likely to unsettle her

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