The rise of Ana Ivanovic from a two-year meltdown (late of 2008 until the early 2010) came at Stanford, just after Wimbledon, when she shocked the world and destroyed Alisa Kleybanova (the Russian who defeated the Serbian in a very rough three sets in Australian Open a year after Ana’s runner-up debut) in straight sets. In Cincinnati, Ana clearly survived a second-set tiebreaker to stop Victoria Azarenka from advancing into the second round. Moving on into last four with Maria Sharapova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Kim Clijsters, Ivanovic suffered an unexpected injury during her clash against the eventual champion (Clijsters) and the winning chances of coming to US Open as an unseeded player became slim.
However, the injury has not bothered Ana. She reached the fourth round of the Slam with easy wins over Ekaterina Makarova, Jie Zheng and Virginie Razzano. Every little thing in her style of playing has improved especially her serve and her movement unfortunately, she was immediately forced to take another difficult test in which she was totally unprepared. Kim Clijsters, the defending and eventual Slam Champion, overpowered the beautiful Serbian.
Three tournaments following the US Open, Ana Ivanovic was invited to replace Serena Williams in Linz. The French Open 2008 Champion was completely invincible in five consecutive matches to win her ninth career title on a very high note.
Ivanovic reached the quarterfinals in Luxembourg in which she was defeated by Julia Georges, the only player who pushed Ivanovic in a tiebreaker back in Linz.
Coach-less once again, Ana Ivanovic would end her 2010 campaign in Commonwealth Tournament of Champions in Bali, Indonesia. Without the former coach of Steffi Graf on her side and a number of her loyal supporters (myself included) and haters were expecting her to lose, the unexpected happened- Ana proved us all wrong.
QUARTERFINAL MATCH: Ana easily outclassed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in a 6-0, 6-1 scoreline. Ana was clearly using the whole court to her advantage.
SEMIFINAL “BIRTHDAY” MATCH: Ana was heavily tested by 40-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm, breaking Ana’s serve twice to seal a 3-0 lead in the first few minutes of the match. However, Ana was not bothered by the Japanese’s unorthodox style of playing. She knew she only needed to take some time to analyze her opponent’s game. Thanks to her patience and consistent well-angled groundstrokes and all her efforts paid off. Ana found a way to win four consecutive games 7-5 to take the first set.
The second set was filled with nerve-cracking momentum swings and disappointing errors. Ana was all zest up while holding a match point at 5-3 lead but Date-Krumm pushed her to a tiebreaker.
Ana lost the tiebreaker but she impressively won the first game of the third set. As the final set heat-up, Date-Krumm was losing her rhythm and Ana quickly used it to her advantage. She continued to pressure the former world number four with her sharp shot selections to celebrate her 23rd birthday with an unforgettable 7-5, 6-7, 6-2 win.
FINAL MATCH: The quality of Ana’s match against Alisa Kleybanova was great in all departments despite of low percentages in first serves. Both women wanted the title and both of them put much pressure against each other. Ana was kinda scared of Alisa’s killing serves and groundstokes. She kinda remembered the Russian thrashed the tournament’s defending champion (Aravene Rezai) and the former world number five (Daniela Hantuchova) in the previous rounds.
The first set was a swept (6-2). Ana was not wasting time and continued to dictate points from the baseline. However, this type of drama was put on hold in the second set as Ana got broken. Right after the break, Ana held serves at love but like in the semifinals, Ana was still pushed to a tiebreaker.
Things could change in a jiff and attempting to keep the match on her side, the Russian fired a solid winner at 4-6 down. Ana stood calm. When it’s her turn to serve, she closed out the match with an ace on the center service line.
P S : As the world number 17, Ana’s first tournament in 2011 will be Hopman Cup (January 1-8) partnering Novak Djokovic. 🙂
Photos courtesy of: commbanktennis