Samantha Stosur of Australia hits a shot during her first training session in Brisbane on December 28. Photo: AFP
Samantha Stosur has suffered a major blow to her hopes of a successful Australian Open after undergoing ankle surgery five weeks ago.
Stosur has only started back at training in the past fortnight and is yet to run at full pace after going under the knife to have a bone spur removed from her left foot.
The 2011 US Open champion has struggled to cope with the home expectation in past Australian summers and her recent operation will no doubt make her 2013 quest even tougher.
Stosur said she was hampered by the injury towards the end of the 2012 season and was now looking forward to playing pain free.
"There is no ideal time to do anything like that, but it had to be done and everything's gone well. But I haven't been able to do enough of what I wanted to do (in training)," she said.
"I will see how it goes and I'm ready to go.
"It's only in the last week to ten days that it's pretty much normal."
The Brisbane International draw was released on Saturday and if Stosur can get past the second round for the first time, the Australian seventh seed is positioned to meet superstar Serena Williams in the quarter-finals of her home event.
Stosur will face Swede Sofia Arvidsson in the first round, and if things go to plan she'll likely face Williams in the final eight of a strong tournament which features eight of the top 10 women's players.
Williams faces fellow American Varvara Lepchenko in the opening round.
Stosur and Williams are on the same side of a tough draw that includes No.1 seed Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki.
The top two seeds Azarenka and Maria Sharapova have first round byes.
Queenslander Stosur will be looking to improve on a poor record in Brisbane.
Young Victorian Olivia Rogowska, who enjoyed a first-round win over Arvidsson at this year’s Australian Open, has drawn a qualifier. Fellow wildcard Jarmila Gajdosova will meet Italian Roberta Vinci, where victory would see her play Sharapova in the second round.
Meantime, Lleyton Hewitt has a huge challenge in the men’s tournament after being drawn to meet inaugural Brisbane International champion Radek Stepanek in the first round.
Hewitt, one of three Australian male wildcards, is also in the same quarter as top-seed and defending champion Andy Murray.
Australia’s top-ranked player Marinko Matosevic has also copped a tough draw by being pitted against Japanese fifth-seed Kei Nishikori.
Gold Coast youngster Ben Mitchell will play 2006 Australian Open runner-up Marcos Baghdatis first up, while fellow wildcard Matt Ebden will meet Belgian David Goffin.