Samantha Stosur will have to defy one of the worst match-ups of her career to reach the French Open quarter-finals.
Few, if any, players have caused more problems over the years for Samantha Stosur than Russian ace Maria Sharapova.
But the Australian 19th seed insists history won’t be weighing on her mind when they meet again at Roland Garros.
Sharapova, the seventh seed and 2012 champion, will head into Sunday’s French Open fourth-round encounter carrying a whopping 13-2 head-to-head advantage from previous meetings.
By comparison, Stosur matches up considerably better against 17-time grand slam champion Serena Williams (3-6), world No.2 Li Na (6-1) and third-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska (1-3).
The 30-year-old Queenslander isn’t sure why she’s largely struggled since first facing Sharapova in Birmingham, England a decade ago, nor does she think there’s a special secret to overcoming the Russian.
“I have beaten her before so I know what it takes,” Stosur said after an impressive third-round win over Slovakian ninth seed Dominika Cibulkova on Friday.
“I know I have to play very well against her.
“The couple of times I have beaten her (Tokyo, 2012 and Istanbul, 2011) maybe I did things a little bit different or a little bit better.
“But at the end of the day, I’ve just got to do what I do well.”
Adding an element of mystery to Sunday’s clash is the fact none of the pair’s 15 meetings has come at a grand slam, including the Roland Garros red clay that usually bring out the best in Stosur.
“We have never played here, so I will take that as a good thing,” the Australian said.
Sharapova has won all three of the duo’s clashes on clay, including a 6-4 6-3 win at the Madrid Masters earlier this month.
But the world No.8 is well aware Stosur often saves her best for Paris.
“This is a new match,” Sharapova said after a 6-0 6-0 demolition of Argentine Paula Ormaechea.
“She (Stosur) has a great serve. She uses the court extremely well, moves well on it.
“It’s a good match-up.”
Sharapova has firmed into favouritism for the women’s title following the shock exits of Williams, Li and Radwanska.
It is the first grand slam in the Open era where the top three women seeds all failed to make the last 16.
Should Stosur somehow fashion an upset against Sharapova, No.8 Angelique Kerber would be the highest seed left on a possible path to the final.
Not that Stosur, the 2010 runner-up, is getting too excited just yet.
“I guess it’s an opportunity but it’s a bit irrelevant until I play this next match,” she said.