Sam Stosur opens up about her training
Before Sam Stosur even swats her first tennis ball at the 2013 US Open, the 2011 champion already was making news. On Aug. 17, two weeks after winning her first title in nearly two years, the Aussie announced she and her coach of six years, David Taylor, were splitting ways.
"So far, I've had three days of practice by myself, and it's been fine and good," said the 29-year-old Stosur, the last person to beat Serena Williams at Flushing Meadows. "I have no doubt it's going to be a little strange going into a tournament without Dave, but I'm prepared and I'm going to play as best I can."
When she hits the court to play American Victoria Duval in the first round, the tournament's No. 11 seed will bring her powerful forehand -- her self-described "weapon" -- along with a few other secrets of her training:
Let's get physical
My practices are pretty intense. I'm not keen on being fed the same kind of balls in one spot. I like to be really physical, moving side to side and running hard. Even when I'm practicing my serve, I make it as realistic to match play as I can. For instance, I'll serve all first serves, hitting one wide, one into the body of my opponent and one into the "T" before doing the same pattern with second serves. And my coach returns my serves, so I have to get a first shot off. I'm out there for about an hour and a half or two hours -- my court sessions are pretty tiring.
Trading a racket for a paddle?
Mixing up my training makes me a better tennis player and stronger all around. It's easiest to train off the court when I'm home in Sydney. But when I'm in Tampa, it's so bloody hot that I don't want to be outside. I run stairs, ride my bike, go kayaking or do some indoor rock climbing. I run a little, but as I've gotten older, I have niggly little injuries I don't want to aggravate.
Chocolate milk on ice
Straight after a match, I drink a glass of chocolate milk for quick calories. Then I'll get on an exercise bike for about 10 minutes to turn my legs over and cool down. I'll have a good stretch, and, depending on how physical the match was, I may jump in an ice bath or do a hot/cold soak rotation. Follow that up with a little massage or physio treatment, and about 90 minutes later, I'm good to go.
Spin on mental toughness
A big part of staying mentally strong and focused is to not dwell too much on the previous point. Whether I hit a winner or made an unforced error, I do my best to let it go. There are many important points in a match, but the more I treat all points the same, the better chance I have of winning. It's also really important not to play to the score. On match point, I've got to play like I've been playing. If I've been volleying well, I can't decide I don't feel like going to the net. I've still got to volley.
I don't prescribe to any certain eating style. Before a match, I eat sensibly. There's usually pasta or rice and chicken at the courts no matter what country I'm playing in. Food-wise, Japan is my favorite country, though. I like everything from sushi on down. There are so many styles and variations of Japanese food that I never get sick of eating it.
Flushing Meadows forecast
I've had two good years at the US Open, and I know I play well in those conditions. I've recently found good form again -- I pulled a calf muscle at Indian Wells in March and that set me back a few steps -- and if I play smart, physical tennis, I can see myself doing well again.