Good vibes, sixth sense information Stosur & Zhang to Cincinnati title

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2019 Australian Open winners Samantha Stosur and Zhang Shuai met for the first time since February to win their third team title at the Western & Southern Open. The unset duo stopped the glowing run of the Montreal champions Gabriela Dabrowski and Luisa Stefani in the final and won 7: 5, 6: 3.

“We had some very, very close games and were able to pull through the first four.” [wins] in a super tiebreak, “Stosur told reporters after the win.” I think that shows even without playing a lot, we combine really well and really support each other and support each other no matter what. That’s the best first and foremost. Regardless of today’s result, we were proud of our performance. “

With Ashleigh Barty’s victory in singles, it was an Australian win in Cincinnati. The title was Stosur’s 27th double title and Zhang’s 9th, and the first for both of them since winning the Australian Open. For Zhang it was a win to just be able to play with Stosur again.

“We miss each other so much because we haven’t been able to play together for the past two years,” said Zhang. At the first tournament we play together again and won the big cup. That’s so special.

“The first day we met and Sam said to me, ‘Yeah, we’re back.'”

Stosur and Zhang spoke to WTA Insider after their win to discuss how they came back from the brink during the tournament and why Zhang’s “sixth sense” may have brought them the title.

“‘Happy’ is sacred. So we have to stay happy, stay healthy and keep playing tennis. We always have a chance to win.”

-Zhang Shuai

WTA Insider: You won the final in straight sets but you really had to fight to get there. All four of your previous games went into a match tie-break and you recovered from a set and lost 1-5 in the semifinals to win. What was the secret to getting through these tight moments?
Zhang: What’s the secret? We were also 5-1 behind in the semi-finals of the Australian Open. [We won] 7-5, first movement. No matter what result, even 5-0, no matter. If we lost 6-0, 6-0, we’re still happy to play together. So we don’t care if we win or lose. We are just so happy. I think happiness is the most important thing, right?

“Happy” is sacred. So we have to stay happy, stay healthy and keep playing tennis. Always a chance to win.

I am so happy because I can play with my best friend every day. You train, you practice, you play matches, all together. They warm up together and cool down together. You always talk what you want, you are natural. I can show the real ‘me’. I don’t have to do anything wrong or say anything spurious. I do not like that. It makes you feel so good.

I like it so much now. That’s why I play well. Be natural, everything.

Stosur: I think she got it right to the point. Given the circumstances, we haven’t been able to play too much in the last few years. And then, of course, with everything that is going on in the world, it is very difficult. It’s just a great feeling to work with her again and to win such a title for our first games together in a long time.

We always have fun. We smile, we laugh, we support each other no matter what. You make a mistake, you meet a winner, you get the same reaction. I think playing with someone who has that kind of attitude and positivity can only make you feel good. That’s how I feel out there.

She is the most positive tennis player I have ever played with. When the going gets tough, she almost relaxes even more. So it can only feed a good point or a good shot and everything. Then you can build on that as the game progresses. Fortunately, we can do that a couple of times this week and get the title.

“I actually called a different serve at the match point and Shuai says, ‘No, you go far.’ I thought, “Okay. Without that call, who knows what would have happened. “

– Samantha Stosur

WTA Insider: Sam, you ended the match with a breakpoint in the last game. On 30-40, you hit two great first serves and you finish with an ace. That had to feel good.
Stosur: I think I’ve played a lot of games in my career, but if you haven’t done it for a while and you get to the final, the pressure is always a bit bigger. At this point, your opponents don’t have much to lose. They broke me early in the sentences, but as the game progressed I thought I would serve well and keep them under pressure too.

I actually announced a different serve at the match point and Shuai says, ‘No, you go far.’ I thought okay.

Without that call, who knows what would have happened. It was only halfway on the line, but that’s all you need. I asked Shuai after the game, did you see the replays? She said no, I didn’t mean to look (laughs). It was a little tight.

But I got into it and I think that’s exactly what you have to do in moments like this. You need to support yourself and hit your best serves, hit your best shots and know I have done this before and will do it again.

WTA insider: Zhang Shuai, why did you tell her to go far?
Zhang: In Chinese I know how to say it, but in English it’s something you feel, or your heart or something tells you something and you just follow.

I mean, I always follow. I think something, I just do it. No matter if in or out. You just go To do.

Because I trust Sam’s service. Sam’s serve is number 1 in the WTA. Whether tee or width, we definitely have this winner. Because of Sam’s service games, I know for sure that we will win this game. Even teeing off makes Sam an ace. Many, many times.

Grand Slam winner. Singles, doubles and mixed! So special to my partner.

WTA Insider: She’s your greatest cheerleader.
Stosur: I told you so positively, didn’t I? I just have to take them with me everywhere.

WTA Insider: Zhang Shuai, in English we would call it intuition or a sixth sense.
Zhang: Sixth! Yes sir.

WTA Insider: Is that your philosophy of life? Follow your intuition?
Zhang: Yes. In my life all the time. I am following this. I depend on it.

WTA Insider: Why?
Zhang: Why? Because it’s always true!

Sam, I said broad. Sam-Ass. So we won the cup (laughs). So next time why don’t we chase this? Always right. I’ve been building trust for 32 years. That’s why I trust. Trust because it’s always right. That’s why you trust.

And I trust myself too. I trust Sam. Well, I trust Sam’s serve (laughs)! That’s the most important thing, isn’t it?

WTA Insider: You both won a hard court slam at the Australian Open together. Will expectations for the US Open change this week?
Zhang: So this week this tournament is already finished. We’ll keep ourselves relaxed and free for the next week and then concentrate on practicing, building up the service, ace, teeing off, far (laughs).

We can’t just think that we’ve won Cincinnati every day, we’re so happy. We have to start again and try to improve something. This week we’ve played a lot of games in the last few days. So first we need to take care of the body, some massage treatments and the workout. I have to go to Cleveland to play another tournament. So day after day.

I don’t want to think too much. And let’s also look at what the sixth sense is saying. They’ll tell me what to do (laughs).

WTA-Insider: It’s always ‘serve wide’.
Zhang: Not always! Don’t tell the enemy the secret!

WTA Insider: Sam, what does this title mean to you? It’s your first title as a mom, and like Ash, you’re pretty far from home too.
Stosur: It’s really special to be out here again. I really haven’t played much since it all started. Different circumstances, having a kid now and everything else to get out of here and succeed is exactly why you are gambling. That makes it exciting. It is fun. It is fun. You do it on tour with your boyfriend and it’s kind of worth it.

Obviously, being away from home is incredibly difficult. I miss her so much. FaceTime is great, but it’s just not enough. So it will be another five weeks before I actually see her again. But that’s what I do And I knew that this year I wanted to try to play as much as possible.

So here I am giving everything I have every day and after the US Open I go home thinking that I will have many, many months of full-time service.