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Draw opens up for Stosur in Paris

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Originally published on 31/05/17 00:00

The tennis world received a welcome surprise when Petra Kvitova announced her intention to return to action at Roland Garros, and Samantha Stosur speaks for the entire locker room when she says “It’s just really great to have her back.”

The Australian, seeded No.23 in Paris, was slated to face the Czech in the third round, but American qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands ended Kvitova’s run in the second round with a 7-6(5) 7-6(5) win.

Nevertheless, Stosur found time in Paris to check in with Kvitova, who won her first match since suffering career-threatening injuries to her left playing hand when she was stabbed by an intruder at home in December.

“I finally bumped into her at Jean-Bouin [the training centre near Stade Roland Garros], gave her a big hug and said, ‘I'm really pleased you're back’, and really just excited for her,” said Stosur, who beat Belgium's Flipkens 6-2 7-6(6) to reach the last 32.

“I think it's incredible she's recovered this quickly and was able to play here. Certainly I wasn't expecting to see her any time soon. I think that's remarkable. She's one of the nicest girls on tour – she's always got a smile on her face. It's really great just to have her back. She's a fantastic player, and obviously more importantly a great person.”

With both Kvitova and world No.1 Angelique Kerber now out of her section of the draw, Stosur cannot face a higher-ranked player before the quarter-finals. The 2011 US Open champion has a fine record at Roland Garros, reaching the final in 2010 and the semis in 2009, 2012 and 2016.

“With my weapons, I can use them a bit more easily on this surface,” Stosur said. “Maybe I just feel a bit more confident this time of year or something. But at the end of the day, I know you've still got to bring it every single time.”

But the 33-year-old, who arrived in Paris off the back of victory in the Strasbourg final over fellow Australian Daria Gavrilova, knows Mattek-Sands is not an opponent to be taken lightly.

“She's obviously one of the best doubles players in the world,” Stosur said. “We have played each other a few times, but not for a while. I know she always tries to be on the front foot, be aggressive, probably move forward a bit, try to make a lot of plays herself. I'm going to have to try and be aggressive, play my game, but be aware it's going to be a little bit different at times.”
 

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