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Stosur struggles, turns sights to rest and revival

Date

Linda Pearce, Istanbul

Shaking on it: Maria Sharapova and Sam Stosur in Istanbul.

Shaking on it: Maria Sharapova and Sam Stosur in Istanbul. Photo: AP

SAM Stosur's self-assessment is ''seven out of 10'' for a season she completed with a 0-2 record at the year-end WTA Championships in Istanbul.

The weary world No. 9's next assignment is a three-week break, before preparations start for an Australian summer she hopes will be far more successful than the last.

The denouement to 2012 was a shanked overhead on match point of her 6-0, 6-3 thrashing from Maria Sharapova on the final day of round-robin play at the Sinan Erdem Dome, Stosur having started the week as the first-eight's alternate before replacing an unwell Petra Kvitova after the opening session.

But the championships semi-finalist for the past two years won just one of her five sets against Sharapova and Sara Errani, and went 0-6 in two of the other four. The first set in her dead rubber against the unbeaten Sharapova was horrid, Stosur managing just five points, her timing so awry that where the Australian men's No. 1 has been dubbed ''Tomic the Tank Engine'', one wag on Twitter was quick with another hashtag: Sammy the Shank Engine.

''It's like I froze or had no control or something, I don't know. It certainly wasn't a good feeling,'' Stosur told The Sunday Age later. ''I kept trying to tell myself 'just play'.

''I mean, really, at the end of the day, today's match didn't mean a whole lot, so you just go out there and I wanted to try and at least play better than what I did yesterday. It probably didn't quite happen, but at least I won a few games in that second set, and the start of the second was certainly a lot more competitive.''

While Stosur has slipped from sixth at the end of last season, Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka yesterday became just the 11th year-end No. 1 in the 38-year rankings history of women's tennis, a 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 win over China's Li Na securing the Belarussian a semi-final clash with Sharapova.

First, title favourite Serena Williams was to resume from her rest day to meet fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the other semi, Radwanska having needed a tournament-record three hours, 29 minutes to overcome Errani 6-7 (6-8), 7-5, 6-4 in the deciding red group match that surpassed by five minutes the length of the 2007 final between Sharapova and Justine Henin in Madrid.

Meanwhile, Roger Rasheed, the coach recently endorsed by fellow South Australian Darren Cahill as the ideal fit for struggling Bernard Tomic, has accepted what can only be regarded as an easier option: a job with world No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Rasheed, 43, renewed his French connection, having worked with Gael Monfils from 2008-2011. The former tour pro and SANFL footballer's previous client was Lleyton Hewitt, who promoted Rasheed from fitness trainer to coach after Jason Stoltenberg's resignation in mid-2003. The association lasted until Rasheed quit the week before the 2007 Australian Open.

Tsonga, a 2008 Australian Open finalist, has been without a coach since splitting with long-time mentor Eric Winogradsky this year. His first tournament with Rasheed will be next week's Paris Masters, with Tsonga next in line for one of the two remaining berths at the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London, from which fourth qualifier Rafael Nadal recently withdrew.

Having missed the cut for direct main-draw entry, Tomic has elected not to contest the qualifying rounds in Paris, ending his troubled season after his first-round loss in Basel. But Australia's soon-to-be-No. 1 Marinko Matosevic drew Roberto Bautista-Agut and Matt Ebden another Spaniard, Daniel Gimeno-Traver.

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