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Why Samantha Stosur Could Upset Maria Sharapova At The French Open

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Maria talks win, cold

Maria Sharapova talks about her second-round win over countrywoman Vitalia Diatchenko and the cold she's been fighting at the French Open.

PARIS -- Samantha Stosur is on a little bit of a roll here in France. Which she needs to be considering her next opponent: Maria Sharapova.

Sharapova, who years ago famously compared her clay-court performance to a cow on ice, has since become almost Rafa-like at Roland Garros. She has played in the final the past three years, winning twice, and has a 22-1 record here since 2012. As long as she isn't playing Serena, she's almost unbeatable here.

Sharapova also has dominated Stosur in the past, beating her 14 times in 16 matches, including their last meeting when Sharapova knocked her out in the fourth round here last year. Stosur took her to a third set that match only to then lose 6-0.

"Last year was very close, and all of a sudden it was very far away,'' Stosur said. "That's certainly a position I'd like to try to get in again, and hopefully this time if I do get in a position it won't fall away so quickly. But I do feel like I'm playing well. I have had a good lead-up and now I have played another really good match here, and it's all going to help me going into this next one.''

Stosur started the year off slowly, failing to win consecutive matches until reaching the third round in Madrid. Since then, she has played much better, especially in France. She won the Strasbourg Open last week and whipped her opponents in the first two rounds here. She beat Madison Brengle 6-1, 6-3 in the first round and crushed Amandine Hesse, 6-0, 6-1 Wednesday.

She attributes the turnaround to again working with her old coach, David Taylor, as well as playing on clay. She likes the surface here -- Stosur reached the French Open final in 2010 and the semis in 2009 and 2012.

"She has a very heavy ball, and I think on clay specifically it just really penetrates through the court,'' Sharapova said. "The spin that she's able to create from her forehand and her serve, she has one of the best kick serves in the game. She's really able to put that power into it and kick. There are a lot of untraditional things that she does, but I enjoy that challenge.''

Another thing that may aid Stosur: Sharapova is feeling a little under the weather with a cold that has added a little more nasal tone to her grunting. She says she is getting better and it hasn't slowed her down too much on the court. She won her two matches in straight sets, including Wednesday's 6-3, 6-1 win over Vitalia Diatchenko.

"Look, playing Maria is always a big challenge for me,'' Stosur said. "No matter what surface it's on, I don't have a very good record at all. I've got to be ready to have to play as well if not better than what I have been doing.''