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Stosur’s French love affair

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Originally published on 03/06/17 00:00

The Australian may have picked up her Grand Slam title at the US Open in 2011, but her record at Roland Garros stands alone as her winningest slam, with a final appearance in 2010 and semi-final tilts in 2009, 2012 and 2016.

After reaching the third round for a ninth successive season, Stosur wrapped up victory in her 50th French Open match against Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-2 6-2, giving her a 37-13 record in Paris heading into Sunday’s fourth round showdown with unseeded teenager Jelena Ostapenko.

“Clay courts are a surface where I feel like it matches up with my game very naturally well and my weapons can easily be used,” Stosur explained about her prowess on the dirt. “I just feel really comfortable on this surface. And, obviously, these courts are the best in the world, so you can really get into it. If you're confident then you can do very well here. Then you have that confidence going into an event knowing that you've done well before. That always helps.”

Winning percentages are all well and good – and Stosur certainly feels at home on the terre battue beyond Paris, having arrived fresh from her title win in Strasbourg – but the No.23 seed knows she will not be remembered for percentages, but titles. For that reason, 2010 and her final showdown with Francesca Schiavone is the run that stands out in her French Open history.

“If you asked me after losing to Francesca in the final, I would say it was a horrible, you know, sad story,” Stosur said of her Roland Garros odyssey. “But as I've been able to get over that loss and look at it for what it is on the whole of what I've been able to do here, I think it's great. I guess it would be a nice, romantic love story where there's hopefully still a great finish at the end.”

Stosur and 19-year-old Ostapenko have met once before at the Rio Olympics, where the Latvian raced away with the first set before Stosur stormed back to win in three.

“She's really got nothing to lose,” warned Stosur. “I know she hits the ball hard. She's pretty fiery, so it's a match where I'm going to have to play aggressive. I know she's going to absolutely go for it and I'm going to have to play my style, and that's what I'm going to try and do.”

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