Ivanovic gets the Beijing blues
Originally published on 26/02/10 11:15
Just three months ago she was on top of the world – French Open champion, world No.1, and, with Novak Djokovic and Jelena Jankovic, another Serbian success story.
Since then, however, Ana Ivanovic’s season has been the stuff of nightmares. An abductor muscle injury picked up in Paris wrecked her grass-court preparations for Wimbledon, where she duly crashed out to Zheng Jie.
A thumb injury ravaged her summer plans, even forcing her to withdraw from the Olympics.
She managed just one Tour win, against world No.64 Petra Kvitkova, ahead of the US Open, where she crashed out in even more spectacular fashion than she had at SW19 – falling to French qualifier Julie Coin in the second round.
Finally, inevitably, she was dethroned from her No.1 spot, falling to No.4 after a second-round exit in Tokyo.
And she is set to fall further after Zheng Jie, who inflicted Ivanovic’s first defeat as World No.1, again got the better of the Serb at the China Open.
The 25-year-old home favourite, who went on to reach the last four at Wimbledon, was put under enormous pressure from Ivanovic in the last set before sealing a 7-6 2-6 6-4 win.
After failing to serve out the first set, Ivanovic entered the third set with the momentum after tearing apart Zheng’s service game in the second.
But she promptly stalled in the decider with Zheng breaking her serve twice and dictating play.
“She was really aggressive and she was dominating a lot,” Ivanovic said afterwards. “After the match when I talked to my coach, he was saying that I should have been more aggressive.”
Having saved a break point and survived a marathon deuce battle at 4-3, Zheng closed out the match in style, serving cleanly to bring up three match points and needing only one to seal victory.
Zheng now faces Svetlana Kuznetsova, who swept aside Slovak Dominika Cibulkova 6-2 6-4, while Vera Zvonareva awaits either Daniela Hantuchova or top seed Jelena Jankovic in the other semi-final.
But the wait for Ana to bounce back goes on. Her playing record since that French Open victory now reads won five, lost five.
Sure, she’s been injured, but sooner or later Ivanovic has to produce the kind of form that took her to that No.1 spot.
And if she needs motivation, a quick glance at compatriot Jelena Jankovic’s turnaround this season ought to do the trick.