Sam Stosur supports Daria Saville to climb to new heights and fill the void left in Australian women’s tennis by the retirement of Ash Barty.
And Saville herself has praised her former mentor Stosur for the inspiring dinner pep talk that helped her reach the third round of the French Open as the only Australian player still in the draw.
No one was happier than Stosur as he witnessed the final warming chapter in the Melbourne player’s exciting comeback from injury as Saville defeated double Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 6-4 6-2 at Roland Garros on Wednesday.
But even before going to court for one of her best wins, 2011 US Open champion Stosur, who serves in the doubles in Paris, predicted great times for the rejuvenated ‘Dasha’.
“I think Ash has covered a few gaps because now that she’s gone, we currently only have Ajla (Tomljanovic) in the top 100,” Stosur said when asked about the current state of women’s tennis in Australia.
“Suddenly it doesn’t look so great.
“But I think Dasha will get back on that soon. It’s great that she’s playing again and healthy, touching wood, because she’s been through some really tough years.
“If she can stay fit, she can definitely push back to where she was.”
Five years ago, when Roland Garros finalist Stosur’s star began to wane in 2010 and Barty’s was just beginning to really shine, Saville – then Daria Gavrilova – was Australia’s No.
“Sam has always been a bit of guidance to me, and she’s someone I always look up to,” Saville said.
“I was with her and Stubbsy (Rennae Stubbs) in Strasbourg (the French Open tournament) and we went out to dinner after I lost (scary to Anna-Lena Friedsam).
“Basically, they said ‘don’t be so hard on yourself’ and pointed out positives. They thought I was losing focus and they gave me a kind of mentor.
“Sam was like, ‘this is what I normally do’, so I said okay, ‘I’m going to try it at Roland Garros’.”
Stosur urged her to follow “the 3Cs – clarity, composure and dedication” – qualities Saville demonstrated in abundance against Kvitova to set up a third round with Martina Trevisan, an old Italian girlfriend from their teenage years.
And 38-year-old Stosur was apparently still following the mantra herself when she won her opening doubles match with her new playing partner Latisha Chan.