Volvo Car Open notes: Around the world with Samantha Stosur

Samantha Stosur will fly home to Australia for a Fed Cup tie with the U.S. after leaving Charleston and the Volvo Car Open. (Grace Beahm/Staff)

Samantha Stosur will have a demanding travel schedule when her run in the Volvo Car Open ends.

The 2010 winner here will jet home to Australia for next week’s Fed Cup competition with the U.S. in Brisbane. Then it’s off to Europe for the heart of the clay court season, culminating with the French Open in Paris.

“It’s not ideal, that’s for sure,” said Stosur. “I certainly wouldn’t be going back to Australia next week if it wasn’t for Fed Cup. But look, that’s the draw that came. And now that I’m going back, I’m looking forward to going home — well, home for like two days, and then the rest of the time will be at Fed Cup.

“But I can see my family there and some friends. So even though it’s going to be a quick trip, it’s going to be a lot of fun and worthwhile.”

Speaking of Fed Cup, Russian-born Daria Gavrilva, seeded 12th here and ranked No. 37, has been cleared to compete for Australia.

On the U.S. team are Madison Keys, Coco Vandeweghe, Christina McHale and Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

American player Bethanie Mattek-Sands has been active on the WTA Tour’s player council and is involved in the pay-gap issue between men’s and women’s players that has reignited in recent weeks.

“It’s a hot topic right now, but it’s never really gone away from our conversations when we’ve talked with the WTA about it,” she said. “If you take someone, a guy that’s 15 in the world in singles and a girl that’s 15 in the world in singles, they’re still not making the same. So it’s not technically equal.

“It’s equal at eight tournaments a year. I think the men still have a lot more opportunities to play. They have more tournaments per week. So I think there’s a lot of things that we have constantly been working on; whether it’s a hot topic in the media or not.”

Mattek-Sands thinks the gap can be closed.

“You know what, I’ll say yeah. You know, nothing is impossible. I’m kind of one of those people that thinks anything is possible. I mean really, like you put your nose down to the ground and figure some things out. I think it is.”

WTA veteran Patty Schnyder made a comeback on Daniel Island this week, returning to competitive play after retiring in 2011. The 37-year-old Schnyder, now a mom, lost in qualifying last weekend but made an impression on Stosur.

“I just saw here hitting out there,” Stosur said this week. “She looks exactly the same as what she did when she was playing.”

Schnyder became a fan favorite in Charleston, playing this tournament 15 times and making the finals twice. Stosur said she was scrolling through the rankings recently and saw Schnyder’s name.

“I thought, ‘Okay, is that THE Patty Schnyder?’” Stosur said. “And then we saw her in the clubhouse a couple of days later. To have her back out here is really exciting. She was a tricky opponent, the lefty with the spin. She still slides great on these courts, and was never easy to play.”

ESPN2 will televise Friday’s quarterfinals from 1-2:30 p.m.; Saturday’s semifinals from 1-3 p.m.; and Sunday’s final match from 1-3 p.m.

Crowds of 7,005 for Wednesday’s session and 5,450 for the night matches brought the week’s total to 42,797 at the Volvo Car Open. That’s an average of 6,114 for seven sessions thus far. Last year’s tournament averaged 6,629 per session. The 2011 tournament, which drew a record 94,241 spectators, averaged 6,731 fans for 14 sessions.