Samantha Stosur is trying to embrace the weight of expectation as she seeks to end her history of Australian Open underachievement.
Stosur, the 2011 US Open champion and 2010 French Open finalist, has reached the fourth round just twice and never progressed further in 11 attempts at Melbourne Park.
Two years ago, as the sixth seed and reigning US Open champion, she suffered a shock first round exit at the hands of unseeded Sorana Cirstea.
Last year, Stosur admitted to choking as she gave up a 5-2 lead in the deciding set to fall to another unseeded player, China’s Zheng Jie, in round two.
The 17th-seeded Australian admits she’ll be nervous as she takes on her Hobart International semi-final conqueror Klara Zakopalova in the opening round on Monday.
But the 29-year-old believes she’s ready to handle the pressure of being the nation’s only seeded player in men’s or women’s singles.
“I’m the top female player from this country. We’ve got a huge grand slam tournament. But I don’t think that’s really bothered me this time around so far,” Stosur told reporters on Saturday.
“At the end of the day it’s always been a really positive thing.
“Anyone that has ever come up to me just wants me to do well and they wish me luck.
“I know they just want the best for me.
“I want to try to play well and play my best tennis here in Australia and give them all something to cheer about.”
Stosur hopes to use the home crowd to her advantage.
“I know they’re on my side. I know sometimes that can really lift you and maybe help you get through some of those tough moments,” she said.
Stosur expressed contentment with her preparation, despite losing all three of her singles matches at the Hopman Cup in Perth then being thrashed by Zakopalova in their Hobart semi.
But she realises there are areas of her game she must clean up to turn the tables on the Czech.
“I probably would like to return a little bit better on Monday than what I did yesterday, just overall do things a little bit better,” Stosur said.
“Cut down those errors, obviously, but still play the way I want to play.
“I know how I want to play and be aggressive and try to hit winners.”
If Stosur beats Zakopalova, she could face Sydney International winner Tsvetana Pironkova in the second round.