World No 1 Victoria Azarenka empathises with Samantha Stosur's plight, saying mental demons plague every tennis player at times in their career.
Azarenka was surprised yesterday to hear that Stosur had admitted to "a bit of a choke" in her second-round Australian Open capitulation against Zheng Jie, and said it was tough to imagine being in the Queenslander's shoes.
"We don't have a grand slam in Belarus, so I'm kind of lucky with that - or not," the defending Open champion said, after cruising into the third round with a 6-1 6-0 win over Eleni Daniilidou.
When nerves struck, sometimes they were impossible to control, she said.
"For sure, everybody felt that at some point in their career. It's sometimes that you think you know exactly what you do, but your body just kind of resembles your actions.
"Sometimes it's just blurry. You don't see anything. I'm sure everybody [has] experienced that. I have in the past.
"It's just a matter of how you deal with it. You have to find your own way how to kind of get through it. She's been really honest about it.
"I'm sure it's not easy for her to play here."
Azarenka agreed with Stosur's coach David Taylor that Stosur wasn't just feeling the pressure because she was playing in front of expectant home fans.
"I don't think it's the place," the top seed said.
"Sometimes it's the match. Sometimes it's just the occasion. Sometimes it's just how you feel."
Stosur will get the chance to ignite her season when she heads off to the Czech Republic to lead Australia into Fed Cup battle with the defending champions on February 9-10.
But first, the world No 9 must complete her Australian Open doubles commitments. Stosur returned to Melbourne Park yesterday to team up with Germany's Julia Goerges - ironically she would have been playing her today for a place in the last 16 of the singles had she beaten Zheng.
After they progressed to the second round with a 6-3 6-1 over 16th seeds Daniela Hantuchova and Anabel Medina Garrigues, Taylor paid credit to Stosur for "getting out there again". AAP