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Stosur to play with freedom in final Open

On the verge of her final Australian Open singles campaign, Samantha Stosur plans to play with freedom when she farewells a long chapter of her career on her terms.

Stosur announced in December her record-equalling 20th Melbourne Park campaign would be her final singles tournament.

That will commence on Tuesday for her when she plays American Robin Anderson.

“This tournament probably more so than ever is about going out there and enjoying it,” Stosur said.

“Obviously you want to win. If you play tennis or any sport, you’re competitive. I couldn’t have done this for this long if I wasn’t competitive.

“Absolutely you want to go out there and do your best, come away with the win if possible.

“But first and foremost, I want to go out there, enjoy myself, play well, be free, swing. If I want to hit, go for that winner down the line, I’m going to do it.

“It’s about playing and enjoying that moment and soaking it all up.”

Like any other Australian Open campaign, Stosur, 37, will have her family on hand, though young daughter Evie’s presence will depend on her mother’s match timeslot.

“Look, it’s certainly going to feel a bit different maybe when I’m playing. You look up into the stands, all of that stuff,” Stosur said.

“But at the end of the day it’s all on my terms. It’s something that I feel really good about. Not every athlete gets to finish like that.

“In that respect I’m pretty content with that. Obviously I’m still going to continue in the doubles. It’s not all over. Little by little I’ll get there.

“… You can go out, finish at home, finish at a grand slam – not any better place to finish as an Australian.

“However it goes I’m really happy with that.”

Stosur will continue playing doubles beyond the Open.

World No.1 and compatriot Ash Barty hailed 2011 US Open champion and six-time doubles grand slam winner’s influence on Australian tennis.

“Sam, she’s an Australian champion, plain and simple. She has set the tone for us Aussies as tennis players for years and years,” Barty said.

“For her to have an opportunity to go out on her terms is incredibly exciting. I’m so excited for her next chapter, what that brings in her life. I know she’s going to continue on with doubles.

“The way she’s been able to pave the path and guide so many Australians, so much of the Australian tennis youth, has been nothing shy of remarkable.

“She is our champion. We love her to bits.

“I really hope that she gets to enjoy the experience come Tuesday when she’s playing.”

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