MELBOURNE, Australia - Unseeded but looming, Sam Stosur and Zhang Shuai knocked off three seeded teams, including No.1 seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova in the quarterfinals, to win the Australian Open. Stosur and Zhang capped off their dramatic run to their first Slam title as a team by stopping No.2 seeds and defending champions Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic 6-3, 6-4 in Friday's final.
"It's been an amazing week," Sam Stosur said on the WTA Insider Podcast. "I still remember being set point down in our first round and Rybarikova missed a forehand by a couple of millimeters, and we ended up winning that match in straight sets. I think from there we got better and better.
"I think we played fantastic to beat the No.1 seeds in the quarters and then the [semifinals the] other night was just a crazy match. It was so tight and tense and I think we all played fantastic. To come through that and then play like we did today, it's been an amazing tournament for us."
Hear the full interview with Stosur and Zhang on the WTA Insider Podcast below:
Said Zhang: "Before we won this trophy, I was still a little sad about singles. But now I forget. Now I know why I lost. Now I know why I was bad luck there. Because we take all the luck for doubles."
The title is Zhang Shuai's first major title, and the win was made even sweeter given it was Stosur to talked Zhang out of retiring in the fall of 2015.
"We were in Beijing playing the China Open and Shuai, as she does now every year, takes my team out for dinner there which is always a really fun time," Stosur said. "She was telling us her story, from when she started playing tennis and the history of it. She struggled with injury for a little while and her ranking had dropped and was just finding it hard.
"We all, as professional players in any sport, have gone through those moments and I've been through them myself. I kinda felt I didn't want her to give up on it because of that. If she wanted to stop, obviously it's her choice and no problem, but I would have been a little bit upset. Just kind of said if you think you want to give it another go you can still get better.
"Thankfully she did, she qualified here at the Australian Open a few months later, beat Halep in the first round, who was No.2 in the world, and then made the quarters. To see her go from where she was in October to then have one of the biggest moments of her career a few months later just shows what kind of fighting spirit she has and what she's capable of."
Asked why Stosur's words meant so much to her, Zhang kept it simple.
"Sam is my best friend and I don't want Sam to be sad because of me," Zhang said. "If Sam is sad then I am more sad. So I tell myself, one more time, one more chance."
Zhang took that one more chance and three years later she helped Stosur win her major on home soil since she won mixed doubles at the Australian Open in 2005.