You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Stosur in fight to retain Aussie No.1 spot

AAP logoAAP 3/11/2016 Darren Walton

Her long reign as queen of Australian tennis suddenly under threat, Samantha Stosur says she'll consider more on-court coaching after enduring a dismal finish to 2016.

Stosur crashed out of the Elite Trophy round-robin event in China with successive straight-set defeats, leaving the one-time grand slam champion and world No.4 winless since the US Open in late August.

The 32-year-old's slide has coincided with her split from long-time mentor David Taylor following a charge to the French Open semi-finals in June.

Working with a third new coach in four months, Stosur has won only six of 14 matches since and lost her past five in Asia without managing a set.

After a two-title haul in 2015, Stosur failed to land a trophy this season for the first time in four years and will head into the Australian summer with her Australian No.1 ranking under siege from rising star Daria Gavrilova.

In contrast to Stosur's none-from-five record, Gavrilova chalked up 10 wins during a hugely successfully Asian swing, with runs to the quarter-finals in Beijing, semis in Hong Kong - where she beat world No.1 Angelique Kerber - and the final in Moscow slashing the 22-year-old's ranking in half.

Stosur has held the Australian top ranking for more than seven years, but is set to end 2016 just three spots above Gavrilova at No.21 in the world.

While Gavrilova has fourth-round rankings points to defend at the Australian Open, where Stosur bombed out in her opener last year, Stosur made the quarter-finals in Sydney and will be under pressure to at least repeat that effort.

Stosur has traditionally struggled to perform in front of home fans but, turning 33 in March, she and new coach Josh Eagle will need to quickly reverse the veteran's fortunes to prevent a changing of the guard.

Part of the solution may involve Stosur engaging Eagle on court more after the former Australian Davis Cup coach agreed to work fulltime with her in 2017.

Stosur and Taylor were strongly opposed to courtside coaching during their seven years together, but the Queenslander was happy to talk tactics with Eagle during changeovers in China.

"Initially I was really against the whole idea. I didn't like it at all so I was never going to use it," Stosur said.

"Dave, he was really strong about the player having to work it out themselves and that's how you're going to become a better player.

"I think because you can't use it in grand slams that was a big thing, not to be reliant on having your coach come down and tell you what to do.

"I can see both sides. For some players it really works and maybe for some others it doesn't. I think it's finding what kind of works for you."

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon