Stosur to launch Fed Cup campaign against Belarus

So good for so long away from home, Samantha Stosur has been offered a chance to star in Australia after receiving a surprise Fed Cup semi-final singles call-up.

The former world No.4 has won a US Open and made three semis and a final at the French Open but never gone beyond the fourth round in her home grand slam.

Success at the Brisbane International has also escaped her but, at 35, the Gold Coast talent has another opportunity to make some happy memories on Brisbane’s Pat Rafter Arena.

Stosur was picked ahead of Daria Gavrilova and Priscilla Hon and will play world No.10 Aryna Sabalenka in Australia’s opening rubber against Belarus on Saturday.

Australian spearhead and world No.9 Ashleigh Barty has drawn doubles partner and two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka in a tasty first day of action.

The Queensland duo are also set to play doubles together for the first time in what could be a deciding fifth rubber on Sunday.

If Australia wins they will host the final in November against Romania or France and chase their first Fed Cup title since Evonne Goolagong Cawley starred in 1974.

The Belarusian camp admitted their surprise when Stosur’s name was called at Friday’s draw announcement but Australian captain Alicia Molik said it made sense.

‘‘It’s a player Sam’s really familiar with and that’s really important in tie like this, one where no doubt experience has to count as well,’’ Molik said.

‘‘It’d be incredible if I saw her on the weekend get the best out of herself.

‘‘She’s achieved so much and more than most in her career and you talk about longevity and professionalism – you’ve got your No.1 person sitting right here.

‘‘[It’d be great] if Sam can enjoy some of those spoils and gets return for those efforts.’’

Stosur admitted home summers had rarely been kind to her in a 20-year career but that she couldn’t be thinking like that this weekend.

‘‘It’d be fantastic to win tomorrow, first for my team and second for myself,’’ said Stosur, who has won more Fed Cup singles matches (29) than any other Australian.

‘‘It’s always been a bit of a challenge playing in Pat Rafter Arena, but there’s some very good players I’ve played against too.

‘‘I’m not looking in the past of what has or hasn’t happened; it’s all about what I am going to be able to do tomorrow.’’

AAP

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