Sam Stosur should close her eyes and think of England.
Or New York. Perhaps even Paris.
Retired tennis greats Martina Hingis, Tracy Austin and Nicole Bradtke believe Stosur’s ability to ignore the hometown hype will decide her Australian Open campaign.
The trio urged Stosur to find a way to free her mind from the pressure of carrying the weight of a nation.
“I hope Sam is going to play well,” former world No.1 Hingis said on Tuesday.
“We have talked a lot about the pressure she has had in the past … the last two, three years she has always had a let down.
“But I think she has nothing to lose, so she just can go out there and play well.”
Hingis, Austin and Bradtke were taken to Port Willunga, a secluded South Australian beach, to promote the exhibition World Tennis Challenge starting Tuesday night in Adelaide – and all sympathised with Stosur’s plight.
“A lot of it is just pressure that she puts on herself,” said Bradtke, familiar with the expectations from being Australia’s leading female player in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
“She has just got to find a way to relax a little bit. And if she can find that, then hopefully she can get a few wins on the board.
“Some people really thrive on it and some people go into their shell and get really nervous and almost try too hard.
“She will have the crowd on her side and she has just got to run with it and enjoy the moment.”
Californian Austin won two US Opens, in 1979 and 1981, but said she never felt the hometown pressure because, unlike Stosur, she shared the limelight with fellow Americans.
“It is always difficult for the hometown girl or hometown guy, they feel so much pressure,” Austin said.
“I would think that Sam feels the same here … I’m sure it’s not easy.
“Me being American, I came up at a time when there was Chris Evert, Billie Jean King and so many others – there was always somebody else to focus on.”