Queen of Queens
IF Samantha Stosur was walking around the Queens this time last year it is more than likely she would have not got a second glance from the majority of passers-by in the busy New York borough.
It is certainly different this year and as she sets out to defend her title tomorrow morning, she will know she will have more than just the people of Australia cheering her on and she loves every minute of it.
"For sure I get a lot more recognised now," she said. "When I arrived here in New York (on Wednesday) and I was getting a coffee, a guy stood up and said, 'Oh, I just want to wish you good luck for the US Open this year'.
"That certainly wasn't happening before last year, which is cool."
Stosur had her first hit on Arthur Ashe Court since winning the title last year against Serena Williams.
And the first thing she recalled: "Probably the forehand winner I hit on match point," she said.
"That was the one thing that came back probably first."
After beating Williams 6-2, 6-3 to become the first female singles winner of a grand slam since Evonne Cawley at Wimbledon in 1980, it has not been the best of years for the Australian in the major tournaments.
She lost in the first round at the Australian Open, but then reached the semi-final of the French Open where she lost in three sets to Sara Errani after seemingly being in a winning position.
Wimbledon was a disappointing tournament for Stosur too, when she was bundled out in the second round by Arantxa Rus in three sets.
She was hoping for a better Olympic Games but on her return to Wimbledon, Stosur this time could not make it past the first round - losing to Carla Suarez Navarro after winning the first set, 6-3, 5-7, 8-10.
Despite her disappointing record in the majors this year, Stosur has shown glimpses of her top form ahead of her opener with Croatian Petra Martic (1am AEST).
And the Gold Coaster reckons coming in as defending champion adds no extra pressure.
"Some people have always said there's got to be so much more pressure and all this stuff, but as I've said before, how can it be a bad thing to go back to a place where you've won and had all that great success?" she said.
Stosur has not been handed a kindly draw as she attempts to defend her crown.
She knows her Croatian opponent will be no pushover after taking three sets to beat her in Madrid earlier this season.
American Varvara Lepchenko is the first seed Stosur is scheduled to meet but from there the world No. 7 could play either Kim Clijsters or former French Open winner Li Na in the fourth round.
Her probable quarter-final opponent is No.1 seed Victoria Azarenka, though Stosur said she was ready for everything that is thrown at her.
"I've got to be ready and on my game, know what I've got to do and really try to stick to that plan, and be ready right from the first shot," she said.
Other Aussies in action on day one are Jarmila Gajdosova, Anastasia Rodionova, Casey Dellacqua, Matthew Ebden and Olivia Rogowska.