Defending US Open champion Sam Stosur of Australia gutted out a two-set victory today at the US Open. Stosur overcame giant-killer Laura Robson who had sent Kim Clijsters in to retirement and then defeated Li Na. Despite losing serve while serving out the match, Stosur hung tough and got the job done on Sunday. The post-match interview details the thought process that kept Stosur believing and staying composed despite losing a number of match points (from USOpen.org).
Q. Were you thinking on those match points that she really rose to the occasion?
It is clear that Stosur's thought process under pressure was to trust that she was doing the right thing and to just stick with it. Furthermore, Stosur credited her experience as a big factor in her being able to remain composed and focused, and finish Robson off. Do not underestimate the importance of match toughness. Most players need to play matches and compete in pressurized situations to develop the total trust and confidence needed to win a Grand Slam (or just even win a tour level match).SAMANTHA STOSUR: Yeah, I mean, I think out of the, what, nine that I missed, I didn't do too much wrong on at least half of them. So that being the case, I think you got to just take it for what it is. Okay, it's another point. You're hopefully going to get another chance if you keep doing what you should be doing. Kind of what I said to myself on the change of ends. Doesn't matter. See where it gets you. Disappointing not to have gotten in one of those other two games, but I still felt I was in a good position.
Q. A situation like that could really rattle a player. Would you say that was the most pleasing thing, that you were able to stay calm and ride it out?SAMANTHA STOSUR: It can get a little bit frustrating if you kind of let it get to you. I think the more experienced you are, you don't let those things affect you. Probably had a few flashbacks to a few matches last year when I had match points and couldn't close it out. It's one of those things. Sometimes it takes a few of them to get through. Again, if you're not doing the wrong things on those points, you can't get too down on yourself.
Q. Did you feel confident in that situation because of what happened last year?SAMANTHA STOSUR: For maybe half a second. I think every time you play matches and you go through experiences like that, for sure it helps you the next times. Like I said, if you're doing the right thing, then that's really all that matters. Whether it's a match point, 15‑Love, whatever it is, that's the thing you've got to be more concerned about, I think.
Therefore, under pressure take a lesson from Sam Stosur. Focus your mind on playing the kind of point that makes you successful. Go to the bread and butter pattern of play. And, put your self in situations often where you are in pressure match situations. It gives you an opportunity to work on your mental game. When you succeed in those situations it gives you a great deal of confidence and belief going in to future matches.