Samantha Stosur is back in the house and feeling right at home as the US Open titleholder.
Any doubts about Stosur's ability to cope with the stress of defending a grand slam crown for the first time were wiped away in a spectacular 10-minute opening act on day one at Flushing Meadows.
The Australian powerhouse won the first 19 points of her first-round mismatch, threatening to pull off an unthinkable "golden set" before settling for a 6-1, 6-1 destruction of highly-rated young Croat Petra Martic.
"Today kind of carried on from exactly how I was feeling last year," Stosur said after advancing to a second-round clash on Wednesday with Romanian qualifier Edina Gallovits-Hall.
"Hopefully that's a good omen. As far as first rounds go, I was very happy.
"Last year I felt that comfort out there and nothing bothered me; today was along the same lines."
In an ominous warning to her rivals, Stosur said far from entering the tournament anxious about retaining her title, she was expecting the New York hard courts to bring out her best tennis of the year.
"It's a good feeling," the seventh seed said.
"It's a nice pace out there, not too fast. It's quite high-bouncing. I think for me using the spin and the way I like to serve, I can use those things really to my advantage.
"I can get the ball up high straight from the word go. Then you can keep your opponent off balance."
Stosur slammed down 10 aces, smacked 22 winners to Martic's five, committed only 11 unforced errors and dropped just four points in seven service games in a near-flawless display.
For a while she seemed on track to win the opening set without dropping a single point, one of the rarest feats in tennis.
"It pops into your head and you think, 'Oh, that would be cool'," Stosur said.
But to steal half a line from the great Vitas Geraulitas, no one wins 20 points in a row against Petra Martic - not even Sam Stosur.
At 4-love, 40-love, the Australian double-faulted for the only time in an exemplary service display.
"There isn't really anything that I'd say I have to go out on the practice court and work on," Stosur said.
Stosur's relaxed attitude mirrors her mindset from the French Open, where she charged to the semi-finals, and is in stark contrast to how she frets carrying the hopes of the nation at the Australian Open.
"The Aussie Open, I did freeze and it did kind of handcuff me," Stosur said.
"Since then, I haven't fallen into that trap again, so that's a positive sign."
AAPTags: tennis, sport, australia, united-states First posted August 28, 2012 17:46:10