Tennis: Sam Stosur sidelines Daria Saville for Billie Jean King Cup clash in Brisbane

Space-Separated Links

URL URL URL URL URL URL


First-time Australian captain Sam Stosur has made the bold call to leave her team’s highest-ranked player out of the opening two singles matches in Friday’s Billie Jean King Cup clash with Mexico in Brisbane.

Stosur has instead pinned her hopes on Arina Rodionova and Storm Hunter to start Australia’s push for a berth in the finals, sidelining the only Australian team member in the top-100, Daria Saville.

Rodionova, ranked 103rd in the world and called into the team despite a January attack on Tennis Australia officials after an Australian Open snub, was selected as Australia’s No.1 at Thursday’s draw.

World No.116 Hunter was the second singles pick for Stosur, who on Wednesday hailed the left-hander “legitimately one of the best players in the world”.

It meant Saville, a former top-20 player who stormed back into the world’s top 100 last week as she continues to play her way back from an ACL injury in 2022, missed a singles berth.

Saville was a late arrival into the Australian team camp in Brisbane this week after reaching the second round of the Charleston Open in the US last week and she could yet be used in Saturday’s reverse singles, pending the state of the tie with the 19th-ranked Mexicans.

Stosur, who has gone from team member to captain quickly having been part of the outfit that reached the final as recently as 2022, said that dynamic could help given that tough decisions had to be made.

“I think when I first got this role that was something that I thought about, ‘OK, how does this dynamic change now’? As much as I’d practised with a lot of the girls, and obviously you see each other out on tour, you’re not looking at every single thing, the nitty-gritty trying to work out and help them in a different way,” Stosur said.

“So I guess the dynamic shifts a little bit, but I think at the end of the day first and foremost they know that I’ve got their back and we’re friends, and whatever that means to them, move forward and help them.

“I think we’ve all got enough respect for each other and hope that we can help them in any way. It is a little bit different to playing doubles with some of the players to now trying to help them in a different way.”

Stosur said there were “bits and pieces” she knew about the Mexican team that is without their three highest-ranked singles players, including world No.100 Renata Zarazua, with world No.405 Fernanda Contreras the highest-ranked singles player.

“But I’m kind of more focused on what our players can bring to the court each day. I think we’ve got a good chance,” she said.

BILLIE JEAN KING CUP

Australia v Mexico

Pat Rafter Arena, Brisbane

Friday, April 12

Match 1: Arina Rodionova (AUS) v Giuliana Olmos (MEX)

Match 2: Storm Hunter (AUS) v Marcela Zacarias (MEX)

Read related topics:Brisbane