February 9, 2021
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
S. STOSUR/D. Aiava
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. I know it's not ideal to do it against a fellow Aussie but you still must be thrilled to get through to the next round?
SAMANTHA STOSUR: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, unfortunately the luck of the draw sometimes playing a fellow Aussie. But, you know, I'm really happy to get through tonight's match, very happy with the way I played. And, yeah, moving on to the second round for the first time in a while. So it's exciting for me.
Q. 2015. Did you realize it was that long? Did it feel that way? Had it been a monkey on the back?
SAMANTHA STOSUR: I didn't know, but then I read something about it from one of you guys so then I knew. It wasn't like, Oh, my God, it's been this long or anything going into the match.
But, yeah, it's just a nice feeling to get a win on the board again. Yeah, be into the second round.
Q. How did it feel out there?
SAMANTHA STOSUR: I actually felt pretty good. You know, obviously we both losing serve the first four times or whatever it was, but it felt like it was kind of the easy shots letting me down. So I will start making those and if I started winning the first point of the game occasionally, then I kind of felt like I was going to be able to hold serve.
That's just kind of the mindset and what I was trying to go into each one. Then thankfully serving for the set I was able to get myself out of a bit of a hole with some good serves and then get that and then held a lot more easily throughout that second set.
Look, there were certainly some ups and downs and some shots I wish were better but that's part and parcel with playing tennis and all that.
So, yeah, look, a win is a win.
Q. What about playing in front of fewer fans? You have played so many Australian Opens. Did it feel different?
SAMANTHA STOSUR: Oh, it definitely felt very different out there, especially in a big stadium like John Cain Arena. I don't even know what it was, barely full, really. It does feel different in a big stadium when it's like that. Unfortunately that's just the way it has to be at the moment.
You know, you can still use the crowd. There was still, you know, good support out there, which was nice. Hopefully I'll get that again for the next match.
Q. You told us you didn't even know you had Destanee for a day or so until Rennae told you. Do you know who you've got next?
SAMANTHA STOSUR: Well, I do now because the court announcer told me when I was on the court. Yeah, so I play Jess. We played a couple of times. She hits a good ball. Flat, hard. Obviously had a very good win today against Vika. Yeah, I'll have to be on my game and have a plan again. I really stuck to my plan well tonight so I'll do the same thing against her.
Yeah, hopefully it's good enough.
Q. Did you talk pretournament about not having expectations this year?
SAMANTHA STOSUR: Uh-huh.
Q. Did it help? Did you feel different out there than you have in previous Oz Opens?
SAMANTHA STOSUR: Yeah, probably. I think tonight I felt a little bit different than maybe previous OZ Opens, a little bit different to some previous matches. They have been obviously very few and far between in the last year and a half or so.
But that's what I'm pleased about, that I was able to, you know, have what happened last week after a couple of days of being in a bad mood and moping around then I got myself out of that and had a couple of good days of really good practice going into today's match and knew that I had to change that attitude and put that aside and go into today feeling good and, you know, knowing that I have done everything I possibly can. That's what I did.
So that's the most pleasing thing I guess from whether it's Aussie Opens previous years or just last week, whatever it was, just to be able to bounce back from a match like that, yeah, I'm very happy with.
Q. How much tennis did you play in the last year or so, and how did you spend the time when you weren't playing tennis?
SAMANTHA STOSUR: Well, I played the 125 in Indian Wells, I think it was late Feb., we got home as soon as Indian Wells was canceled, and, yeah, didn't hit a ball for two-and-a-half months when my daughter was born, and then started hitting a little bit kind of September. The last couple of months was in full, you know, normal preseason kind of training. So it's a steady, slow progression after many, many weeks off that I haven't had for a very long time.
Yeah, it was certainly a very different year for me, but, you know, an exciting one, as well.
Q. Getting close to get back into high-level competition after missing what a lot of these women experienced from August into November?
SAMANTHA STOSUR: Oh, sure. Playing competitive tennis, it's not easy to, you know, step out on court and play those first matches sometimes. That's kind of the way I ended up looking at it last week was kind of blowing the cobwebs out and doing that.
Yeah, look, there were certainly some times through the preseason when you start playing points again after such a long time. It was hard against all the girls who just played French and US Open and all that. You know, it wasn't always a good feeling losing set after set, but knew that, okay, I've still got another month to play until it really matters.
And that's kind of the steady progression that I was able to give myself I guess, knowing that you've got so much time not to kind of burn yourself out and go too hard too early.
Q. Does that feel like a nice break you have had in your career? Obviously not playing, but everything felt that way and be refreshed?
SAMANTHA STOSUR: Well, that's certainly the way I tried to look at it. Yeah, I kind of thought, okay, well, this is the way it is. Take it as a break, refresh, feel good and healthy in your body again.
Yeah, just enjoy that kind of feeling of not being, you know, trashed every week (smiling).
That's kind of the way I have looked at it, but it certainly was -- it was really hard, you know, getting back into kind of tournament mode, match mode, focus, and all of that in the last couple of weeks.
So it's certainly a different kind of situation, no doubt. Yeah, it's just the way it is, so you've got to, you know, deal with what you've got.
Q. What did you make of Destanee? At 18 she was top 200 and looked like she was about to burst into the scene. Couple tough years. That's a tough journey on the tennis tour especially at that age. What advice do you have for her?
SAMANTHA STOSUR: Yeah, it's tough. I think sometimes when you're, like you said, 18, top 200. I remember she had a good match against Halep here a few years ago and, yeah, talk about expectation and expectation rises from probably herself, from, you know, everyone.
Sometimes it's hard to then make that breakthrough when people then, you know, know who you are, know what your game is like, you've got to do it again next year. And often the second year after a breakthrough is harder than the first, because then everyone knows you and you're kind of the one to beat.
So, yeah, look, I mean, she can play well obviously. She can do good things out there. But, yeah, I think it's really important for someone like her and probably a lot of the Aussies, you know, you've got to play against the best players in the world more often and regularly, and, you know, get yourself into a better-ranking bracket so you can play WTA tournaments even if it's qualifying, because that's where you need to be playing the best players in the world.
But, yeah, it's a tough journey. It's not easy for anyone out there.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports