Australia’s Grand Slam champion Samantha Stosur has revealed she almost quit tennis last year as she continues to battle mental demons on the court, reports said on Sunday.
Stosur, who finished 2014 outside the world’s top 20 for the first time in six years, labelled the season a “really tough year”.
After losing in the first round of the WTA Portugal Open to Swiss qualifier Timea Bacsinszky last April, 2011 US Open champion Stosur said she questioned her passion for the game.
“I lost first round there and I was devastated from that loss,” Stosur told Fox Sports.
“That was probably one of the hardest weeks I’d say of my career so far. That was I guess my one moment, I’d never thought that before and it was really confronting to ask yourself those questions.”
Stosur has admitted to choking in her home grand slam, the Australian Open, and in an interview with Fox Sports spoke about her mental battles.
“It’s a really horrible feeling because you feel so in control of what’s going on and then things can just turn like that,” Stosur said.
“And it feels like a downward spiral and things start happening really quickly and you can’t stop it.”
Stosur said she has sought help from many people and now sometimes uses a breathing technique to try to regain control of her emotions when she is under pressure.
“I’ve sat down with all the people involved (coaches and sport psychologists) and tried to be really open,” said Stosur, who is currently ranked 21 in the world.
“That’s the hardest part, really admitting to yourself ‘OK why is this happening, what am I thinking’ and just been honest with yourself, been honest with them (psychologists) so that they can find those answers for you.
“There’s not a quick fix, it’s a lot of talking and a lot of really hard moments.”
Last week at the Brisbane International Stosur held match point at 5-1 in the third set against American Varvara Lepchenko before her nerves hit and she lost 7-5 in the third set.
“For whatever reason I have struggled to play my best tennis at the start of the year, whether it’s the expectation of the pressure of playing at home of just that I’ve come off an off season,” Stosur said.
“I typically do tend to play better it seems later in the year, when I’ve got lots of matches under my belt.”