In Australia there is something called the “tall poppy syndrome”. Many in the media are happy to boost an athlete and escalate them to the upper echelons of sport but then are just as happy to try and cut them down....
In Australia there is something called the “tall poppy syndrome”. Many in the media are happy to boost an athlete and escalate them to the upper echelons of sport but then are just as happy to try and cut them down. It’s that scenario which seems to be creeping in with Samantha Stosur. During the weekend in one of the Sydney newspapers there was a story slamming Stosur, labelling her a “choker”. That is the one word in professional tennis no player wants to hear. It denotes the fact that the player is weak mentally when it comes to the crunch point in a match and signals they can’t close out a battle. The accusation stemmed from the fact that Stosur led Jelena Jankovic 4-0 in the final set of their quarter final match in Dubai and lost it in a tiebreak. Yes absolutely she should have finished things off and secured a place in the semi finals against Caroline Wozniacki but it wasn’t to be. Absolutely it was disappointing. However, to call Stosur a “choker” is way below the belt. It’s a bit much to make such a comment. Certainly there have been matches in recent times where she should have finished off her opponents like in the first round of the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas in Hobart against Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone. There were also instances during the Australian summer circuit when she let things slip. Many players go through such patches in their careers. This is not something unique to Stosur and unfortunately for her she is going through a bit of a slump in closing matches and so-called observers are getting on her case. Two perfect examples of when she came back to win nail-biters when she was against the ropes was against Justine Henin and Serena Williams in back-to-back matches at last year’s French Open. They ended 6-4 and 8-6 respectively in the final sets. Things will turn around; there is no doubt about that. The fact that she is putting herself in solid positions with such matches is a good sign. Now it’s a case of focusing mentally to get over the final step once more. Once she turns things around, and she will, these same people who have been knocking her will jump back on the bandwagon.