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Stosur's greatest legacy still to come

Tennis broadcaster Brett Phillips has paid tribute to Australian great Sam Stosur, who announced yesterday that this year’s Australian Open would be her last after a career spanning more than two decades.

Stosur’s final pair of assignments at Melbourne Park are in the women's doubles with France’s Alize Cornet and in the mixed doubles with compatriot Matthew Ebden.

“It’s probably no surprise. Obviously it was two years ago now that she retired from singles, wanted to keep playing doubles, the family came along, and then she’s not played a full calendar the last two years, and everyone was wondering when Sam would leave the game,” Phillips told Sports Breakfast.

“What a career. I feel like her greatest legacy is still to come, but we shouldn’t forget her deeds of winning a major, [number] four in the world, the amount of WTA titles, world number one doubles, I could go on and on and on, but maybe her biggest legacy is going to be, along with Ash Barty, in setting up her own academy, is developing better female players.

“She’s achieved so much, and I think it’s a great place for her to finish, and hopefully there’s one more great performance.”

The tournament is now underway, with the big question hanging over the men’s draw coming in the form of Novak Djokovic, as the 21-time Grand Slam winner struggles to overcome a hamstring issue.

“It’s a must watch, isn’t it, because I can’t remember the last time he came into a major with an injury query, normally it’ll be three or four matches into a major that there might be an issue and possibly withdrawing, and he finds a way physically to get himself up and win the tournament,” Phillips said.

“The men’s game, it is brutal out there. These guys are hitting the ball like I’ve never seen, the reaction time is split-second, the ground you’ve got to cover. These young bucks, they want to step up and take the older guys' scalps.

“I think the first three rounds look okay. Possible De Minaur in round four if he gets that far, possible Kygrios quarter-final … as he said yesterday, ‘I want to be the best’, and that means winning the most Grand Slams and breaking every record possible.”

In the women’s bracket, Phillips believes Poland’s Iga Świątek, the pre-tournament favourite, will be hard to stop.

“Iga deserves the favouritism. Incredible year, two majors, eight or nine titles, world number one, she’s nearly six thousand points clear,” he said.

“We know when you’re at the top, you’re the hunted, and you’ve only got to have a little off day. She didn’t quite fire against Jessica Pegula, the world number three, at the United Cup a couple of weeks ago, but the losses have been few and far between in the last 12 months.

“I think if Iga’s on, and she plays her brand of dynamic tennis, she’s pretty hard to stop.”

John Millman and Storm Hunter lead a contingent of six Aussies in singles action today, with big names Nick Kygrios and Alex De Minaur getting their campaigns underway tomorrow.



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