Samantha Stosur. Photo: AFP
Australia's Fed Cup captain Alicia Molik said she would consider any request to continue working with Sam Stosur on a temporary or longer-term basis as the 2011 champion retreated to consider the best way forward after her disastrous first round loss to 296th-ranked qualifier Victoria Duval at the US Open.
Stosur, who split with her long-term coach David Taylor two weeks ago, stayed away from Flushing Meadows on the day after one of the worst losses of her career, not yet required for doubles duty with partner Svetlana Kuznetsova, and clearly not ready for a return to the practice court.
The world No. 11 said before the tournament that she would not be rushed into finding a replacement for Taylor, and Molik agreed that a patient approach to the coach search was the wisest course.
Stosur was devastated by her flop against 17-year-old Duval, having led by a set and 4-2. Molik, another former Taylor pupil, said that "not having the person there that you've always had with you" would have been unfamiliar and perhaps unsettling.
"Sam's obviously incredibly disappointed – it's rough," said Molik, who had helped to prepare Stosur last week. "But I think it will be good for her to take time away after the US Open, and for her to really have some moments away from tennis, away from the limelight, away from tournaments, to really settle down and find the direction and the pathway, and the person that she feels will again bring out the best in her.
"Off the top of my head, I don't have the magical answer, and it will be probably a process she has to work through herself. She's got to find what she wants in a coach now.
"I think the important thing to remember is Sam knows the way she plays tennis the best. She knows her structures, she knows her strengths, she's very aware of the things she does well on the tennis court, so I think it's wise to take her time and make sure she finds the right person, and she will do that.
"Tennis is played by the tennis player, it's not played by the coach, and I'm sure she has that in mind. She's conscious that she'd like to make sure the next person is the right person for the job."
Asked whether she would answer any SOS that may come from Stosur during the closing stages of the season, Molik said she shared a strong working relationship with all four Fed Cup regulars through a captaincy role that remained her primary focus.
"That's my job: to make sure that all the players are on the right track, and to help them wherever they need it."
So what, for example, if Stosur asked her to go on the road for a month as a fill-in measure?
"Look, we'd have to have that chat and find out what she really saw fit for her, and if she really wants that situation. Yeah, of course I'd try and accommodate that, as with the other three members of the team. But there's not too many tournaments left for Sam for the rest of the year, so I think she'll wait to find a permanent [coach]. I need to have that chat with her."
And longer term? "I haven't thought about it, and Sam probably hasn't thought about it yet, either," said Molik. "So we'll probably leave it at that."