Stosur eyeing Hobart as Open warm-up
FORMER Grand Slam champion Sam Stosur will return to the Hobart International for the first time in six years when she lines up in the 2020 edition of the tournament in January.
In a major boost for the event the popular Australian, who reached the semi-finals at the Domain Tennis Centre in 2014, has opted to use Tasmania as her lead up to the Australian Open.
Stosur also led Australia to an emphatic Fed Cup tie victory against Russia in Hobart in February six years ago.
Now in the twilight of her career, the 2011 US Open champion has slid to No. 98 in the world rankings following a difficult 2019 season, having reached a career high of No. 4 in 2011.
However she showed glimpses of her best in the second half of the year, reaching the final at the Guangzhou International in September before going down to this year’s Hobart champion Sofia Kenin.
The 35-year-old also partnered world No. 1 Ash Barty in the deciding doubles match of the recent Fed Cup final defeat to France.
“The tournament’s always known for unearthing champions, but to get a Grand Slam winner back after playing many years ago, certainly it is great,” tournament director Darren Sturgess said.
“That shows the appeal that Hobart as an event is continuing to gather.”
Stosur has traditionally used Brisbane and Sydney as her lead in for the first major of the year.
She could be joined in the state by several high profile players, with a host of former world No. 1 and Grand Slam champions a genuine chance of featuring due to their current rankings.
NICK Kyrgios has declared Australia can win the Davis Cup after Lleyton Hewitt’s team comfortably saw off Colombia 3-0 in Madrid.
Kyrgios and Alex de Minaur cruised to straight-sets victories over Alejandro Gonzalez and Daniel Galan respectively to open up an unassailable 2-0 lead. Those victories were followed up by an impressive doubles win by John Peers and Jordan Thompson who beat world No.1 duo Robert Farah and Juan Sebastian Cabal — the reigning Wimbledon and US Open champions.
The Aussie pair wasted a match point at 5-4 and then saved three in the tiebreak before closing out a thrilling 6-3 3-6 7-6 (8-6) victory.
World No.18 de Minaur blew away Galan 6-3 6-2, a day after the world No.193 took Belgian world No.11 David Goffin to three sets in the opening Group D tie. A zoned-in Kyrgios earlier on Tuesday produced a powerful display against an overmatched but gallant opponent, winning 6-4 6-4.
Gonzalez was a late inclusion after Santiago Giraldo, who played Belgium’s Steve Darcis on Monday, was deemed unfit to play.
Kyrgios, who was lauded for his attitude around the squad this week by team captain Lleyton Hewitt, showed none of his histrionics, leaving the underarm serves and tweeners in the locker in his first match for Australia since February 2018.
The 24-year-old was imperious on serve, hurling down 16 aces and dropping only one point off his serve in the opening set and five in the second. Kyrgios wrapped up the win in just more than an hour in front of a crowd loudly dominated by Colombian fans, then declared he is feeling in great condition.
“I haven’t played that much in the past couple of months but I took time off to get ready for this event,” Kyrgios said on-court after the win.
“It was good. Davis Cup ties are never easy and rankings go out of the window. We saw a couple of upsets. I think we can win it for sure.”
COMING BACK: Grand Slam champion Sam Stosur is returning to Hobart after a six-year absence. Picture: GETTY
FEELING CONFIDENT: Nick Kyrgios plays a forehand against Alejandro Gonzalez of Columbia and Alex De Minaur celebrates a point during their Davis Cup singles wins in Madrid.