History is against her but Samantha Stosur has never been better equipped to stop the rot against world number one Victoria Azarenka and progress to the US Open semi-finals.
Stosur's 6-0 losing record against Azarenka reads like a dreaded tennis bagel, but Australia's defending champion believes she has the weapons to serve it up to the top seed in their blockbuster quarter-final in New York from 1am on Wednesday 1am (AEST).
And she has the statistics to back up her newfound belief.
During her relentless march to the last eight, Stosur has led her rivals - including the great Serena Williams - in almost every serving department.
Of most importance, she has won 82 per cent of points after landing her first serve - superior to Williams' 78 per cent - and she has coughed up the fewest double-faults (11) and unleashed the third-most aces (26).
Stosur has also only been broken three times in eight sets.
The 28-year-old admitted such statistics were a huge confidence booster heading into a showdown with one of the most fearsome returners in women's tennis.
"I've been serving very well in of all of these matches," Stosur said after her fourth-round defeat of rising Brit Laura Robson.
"Out of these four matches, I've only had one or two bad serving games. That's going to be pleasing going into the next match."
Robson found Stosur's second serve especially overwhelming, saying she could not believe how many options the titleholder had at her disposal.
"I really did want to try and mix up my serve and not let her get grooved. She's a very good ball striker," Stosur said.
"You give a player like her the same shot over and over, eventually you're going to get burnt.
"I tried to hit my first serves, be aggressive with that, and just be aware of where I was hitting my seconds.
"That's pleasing to hear I did everything right."
Azarenka has never dropped a set in completely dominating Stosur in the past.
But the Belarusian still knows where she can get hurt in their first grand slam encounter.
"Sam definitely has one of the best serves out there," Azarenka said. "It's definitely a big asset.
"I have no idea how she kicks (the ball) so high. I try during practice, but it never works out."
Despite her imposing record over Stosur, Azarenka said clashing at Flushing Meadows, where the Australian has won her past 11 matches and 15 of her past 16, made for a level playing field.
"It's going to be a completely different style of game," Azarenka said.
"Grand slams are just very different from any other tournaments and quarter-finals are never easy."
And conceding she never enjoys the favourite's tag, the world number one even tried to play the underdog card, saying Stosur, home hope Serena Williams and French Open champion Maria Sharapova all had better title claims.
"I don't try to put that pressure on myself," Azarenka said.
"When I go out there, I need to enjoy playing. If I start putting pressure on myself, I don't enjoy.
"It's not fun for me. I better just go home."
The victor will face either Sharapova or 11th-seeded Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli for a place in Saturday's championship match.
AAPTags: sport, tennis, united-states First posted September 04, 2012 10:19:49