Sam Stosur says Arina Rodionova didn’t hesitate accepting Australian call-up

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New Australian captain Sam Stosur labelled Storm Hunter “legitimately one of the best players in the world” as she weighed up her singles options for the must-win Billie Jean King Cup tie against Mexico hailing the journey all team members took to wear national colours again.

Stosur also said it only took a single phone call to get Arina Rodionova onside after he summer angst with Tennis Australia declaring they “don’t have any problems” with all parties having moved on from her Australian Open snub.

Hunter, Rodionova and Daria Saville, who has charged back in to the world’s top-100 after a slew of injury issues, are vying for the two opening day singles spots on Friday having earned their team spots in “gritty” fashion.

Saville, 30, is again Australia’s highest-ranked woman after her comeback from an ACL team in 2022, while Rodionova recently became the oldest woman to reach the top 100 for the first time, winning seven ITF singles titles in 2023 amid a career resurgence aged 34.

Hunter, who ended 2023 as the No.1 doubles player in the world, has compiled a 6-2 singles win-loss record for Australia since 2021.

She has made her singles mark in the past 12 months and Stosur, without Ajla Tomljanovic in the team, was happy with her spread of singles options.

That includes a clean slate for Rodionova who was quick to accept the offer to re-join the team when Stosur called.

“I said, ‘Would you want to be in the team?’ She said, ‘Absolutely’. She got picked,‘’ Stosur said on Wednesday.

“Arina and I, we don’t have any problems. She loves playing for her country and that’s what it’s about.”

The obstacles overcome by her team members gives Stosur enhanced confidence ahead of the tie against the 19th ranked Mexicans, who have the highest-ranked player in the event with world No.25 Giuliana Olmos, which begins on Friday at Pat Rafter Arena, with the draw to be revealed on Thursday.

“The amount of times Dasha’s (Saville) come back from a very, very serious injury to the top of the sport,” Stosur said of Saville on Wednesday.

“Unfortunately she’s had to do it three times now, but I had faith that she would get back inside the 100 and definitely beyond again.‘’

“And Arina, what she did last year grinding on the challenger circuit was amazing. (It shows that if) you want to put in the hard work, hard yards, week in, week out, it’s possible.”

While Stosur ponders her singles options for two clashes on Friday, Ellen Perez is likely to partner Hunter in doubles on Saturday.

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