NEW YORK: In 1997, 13-year-old Samantha Stosur was late to school because she wanted to watch a pony-tailed Patrick Rafter clinch match point for the US Open crown.
''I told mum and dad 'I'm not going to school until it's done. I'm watching every point of it,''' Stosur, 27, recalls. ''Maybe there will be kids doing the same thing I did.''
The Queenslander will soon play her first US Open final, against Serena Williams. Stosur made the final with a three-set 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 victory over German Angelique Kerber before Williams easily defeated world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 6-4. Williams needed to take medical time out during her semi-final for treatment on her big toe.
Stosur, born in Brisbane and now a jet-setter who dislikes flying, has been part of the furniture in the top 10 of women's tennis for more than a year.
She has spent 11½ hours on court in the six matches leading up to the final, compared with Williams's 7½ hours.
Stosur credits her work with Australian Institute of Sport psychologist Ruth Anderson for the development of her mental game in the past two years.