It's been a long time coming.
Australian Samantha Stosur captured the title at the Southern California Open in Carlsbad over the weekend, defeating this year's Australian Open winner, Victoria Azarenka, in the finals. It was her first win over Azarenka, as well as her first singles title since the U.S. Open back in 2011.
With this victory—which is only her fourth career singles title—Stosur has again entered into the conversation of players who could be a contender at the final Grand Slam of the season, a notion that would have been unheard of as recently as two weeks ago.
Since the crowning moment of her career, in which she beat current world No. 1 Serena Williams in straight sets at the 2011 U.S. Open, the two years since have seen a lot of down moments.
Carlsbad was Stosur's first semifinal and final of the 2013 campaign, which is past the halfway point. It was only as recent as her prior tournament at the WTA Tour stop in Stanford, Calif., when she lost in the first round to unheralded opponent Olga Govortsova.
In 2012, her results were slightly more consistent, when she reached two finals and the semifinals of the French Open—the site of her first career Grand Slam final back in 2010.
That achievement seemed to solidify her as a threat for major titles, which she proved she had the goods to do at the '11 U.S. Open. But since then, Stosur hadn't demonstrated that she could handle the pressure on a consistent basis, particularly when the conditions at two of the Slams, the Australian Open and Wimbledon, work against her.
The home-crowd pressure works against her in Melbourne, while her game just isn't suited for the grass courts at the All England Club.
But her style of play is definitely a threat on the hard courts of the U.S. Open. With her huge forehand and high-bouncing kick serve, Stosur has the ability to put a number of opponents on the defensive. She also knows when best to attack and move forward, traits that could be attributed to her past doubles success.
All of that paid off in Southern California. With the confidence gained from such a convincing tournament-winning run, Stosur stands in line to reap even more benefits at the U.S. Open.