2014/08/29

“My Rhythm Was Really Off,” Ivanovic Upset at US Open

Ana Ivanovic with media 08092012

(August 28, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – Former No. 1 and 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic lost control of her serve and her groundstrokes to suffer a second round defeat at the US Open on Thursday to No. 42 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic.

The Serbian hit seven double-faults along with 29 unforced errors in the 7-5, 6-4 loss.

“I had great leadups to every Grand Slam,” said Ivanovic. “I played a lot of matches and won lot of matches. And big matches, as well. At the Grand Slams I just haven’t performed that well. It’s something that I’m definitely going to work on and see where I can improve, because that’s definitely, you know, big aim for me for next season.”

“It was very tough out there for me today,” she said of the loss. “I really struggled to find my rhythm and made way too many unforced errors. Yeah, it was just really bad day. She served well, and she played good at important points, but I think I just did not play as well as I did.”

Ivanovic gave credit to her opponent: “She served very well. I also thought she actually moved quite well considering her height. She had a good reach. She does hit the ball quite flat. You know, she played well in important points and made some good shots.”

“My rhythm was really off,” said the 8th seed.. And, yeah, my forehand wasn’t working at all. I made quite a lot of unforced errors from that side and I couldn’t rely on it. I felt like I was not pushing her out wide enough and I was not opening the court, because I wasn’t confident enough. It was a little bit gusty out there. But like I said, I really feel like I was not pushing her enough.”

Pliskova moves into the third round and will face 29th seed Casey Dellacqua.

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A Confident Ivanovic Rolls Past Riske in First Round of US Open

AnaIvanovicBNPPOParty

(August 26, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – No. 8 seed Ana Ivanovic made quick work of American Alison Riske on Tuesday in her opening match at the US Open with a 6-3, 6-0 win.

For the Serbian, it’s her 48th win this year, most on the WTA tour.

“It was very tough first-round match,” Ivanovic said. “We had a tough one in Auckland. I knew that coming into today’s match. She had a good run last week, so I really tried to start sharp and tried to play my game to put pressure on her. It took a little bit to adjust. The game was very heavy conditions out there today. I was very pleased, especially the way I finished the second set.”

After reaching No. 1 in 2008, the 26-year-old’s level fell off over the next few years. She’s returned to the top 10 for the first time in five years.

“The confidence is on a high level,” said Ivanovic. “I had a great season behind me. Still I work hard for each match, and I do that because I love it. It’s the same. I don’t want to take anything for granted. I really enjoy being here. You know, like in Paris, as well I had a great leadup and quite a disappointing loss. But, you know, it’s a new tournament, new situation. I really want to enjoy each match.”

The 24-year-old Riske made a splash at last year’s US. Open, making the fourth round after shocking Petra Kvitova.

Ivanovic reflected on what she would do if she reached the heights of No. 1 again: “if that happens, I think for sure I’ll handle it differently. I have more experience myself. I have also good people around me. I was lucky. I have always had very positive people and greet support from my family. That’s something I still have. At the end of the day that’s what matters the most. You know, you have people to go back to.”

“It was greatest moment of my life achieving that, especially I was only 20 at the time. In a way I maybe took it a little bit for granted, because I was always improving, I was always having better and better results. That was kind of natural progression. And once I achieved that, it was very hard to handle all the attention because I was very shy at the time. Like I was speaking before, I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin, you know. I was very introverted. I like to spend my time with the books. That’s who I was. All of a sudden, there was so many requests and so many other things that came with it. No one prepared me for that. Obviously it took me some time to get used to that and to actually embrace it and enjoy it. That’s why only since few years I started loving New York, because that’s about that. It’s about emotions, crowds, and embracing that moment.”

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Serena Williams Wins First Cincinnati Title

By Dave Gertler

(August 17, 2017) MASON, OHIO – Serena Williams proved on Sunday she’s in slam-winning form, by taking out Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-1 in the final of the Western & Southern Open, her last match before the US Open begins in New York.
Williams only dropped one set the whole week, on the way to a 62nd WTA title, and was convincing at the Lindner Family Tennis Center, serving 12 aces and only being broken once – in the first game of the match – on her way to a straight-sets win which took just over an hour.

 

Ivanovic joked after her loss that it “Felt like way more” than 12 aces were being fired at her by the world No.1. “She served a lot bigger and was placing it a lot better. It was very hard for me to read her serves too.” The Serbian world No. 11 had raced out to a 3-1 lead, using her cross-court forehand to dictate points from the baseline, before the world No. 1 was able to assert herself in the match. “She was obviously at that point playing so well,” said Williams, “It was good for me to just kind of get through that moment.”

 

The 32-year-old American did exactly that by jumping on Ivanovic’s first and second serves, hitting clean winners off the return of serve and breaking in the 6th game to level the score. Serving to stay in the first set, Ivanovic hit two consecutive double faults to lose the set 4-6.

 

“That’s something that you cannot do,” Ivanovic said of her two double faults, “Especially against Serena when she’s at her best, like I thought she was today. Then serve fell apart because I tried to force it a little too much. She makes you go for more. That’s when the unforced errors creep in, too.”

 

After Ivanovic held for 1-1, Williams closed out the match in dominant form, losing a total of 5 points on her way to 6-1, hitting two aces in her final service game. “My first day of practice here something just clicked,” said Williams, “I was playing better and I was serving better.”

 

“This is definitely a level that could take me to the title,” said Williams, referring to the US Open which begins next week, a couple of weeks before her 33rd birthday on September 26. “I feel great I think at 32,” she said, “I’m in some of the best shape I’ve been in. I can play long points and be ready to go again. I feel really fit. 32 is the new 22, right?”
Ivanovic, whose previous best result in Cincinnati was a semifinal which she lost to Kim Clijsters in 2010, will begin next week in the WTA’s top 10 for the first time in 5 years. “It’s the biggest final I’ve been in in a while,” said the 26-year-old, “It feels good to be part of it. I just want now to keep working hard and keep improving the areas that I can. There are still few points in my game that I feel I need to work on for the US Open and also for the end of season. Definitely exciting times.”

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney and was covering the Western & Southern Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Birmingham – Ivanovic dominates on the grass, and the weather can’t halt the Rally for Bally

Ana Ivanovic photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Ana Ivanovic photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Chalkdust Chronicles – Ivanovic dominates on the grass, and the weather can’t halt the Rally for Bally

 

(June 15, 2014) BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – After a few days of sunshine the good citizens of the City of Birmingham had been lulled into a false sense of security, but it was another overcast day when top seed Ana Ivanovic took to the court for the final of the Aegon Classic.

 

It was another slow start too as she was broken immediately by Barbora Zahlavova Strycova as both ladies vied for their first grass title. But we have seen a very steely-eyed Ivanovic in play this week, standing inside the baseline to punish second serves, coming in to the net to volley, and pretty soon she was back to bossing the points.

 

The poor weather had seen a late night doubles match continue into the rain, and the preceding doubles before the final had the eventual champions using their badges to scrape the mud out of the little grass-court studs on their tennis shoes.

 

Barbora Zahlavova Strycova was having to do the same thing, angrily smacking her shoes at one stage as Ivanovic maintained her foothold in the match after breaking back, and surging ahead. The momentum stayed with the Serbian as she closed out a straight sets victory 6-3, 6-2 to pick up her first grass court title.

 

After some barren years following her time in the limelight as French Open champion and World No. 1 in 2008, it has taken Ivanovic a long time to find herself – and with a new Serbia team in place, she has looked more and more like the goofy teenager who hit the tennis heights all those years ago.

 

She said: “For me personally it really helps me because I’m more relaxed and I just see a big picture. I don’t only see, okay, this point or this match, it’s going to be disaster, it’s going to be great. It’s just about seeing the big picture. “

 

Zahlavova Strycova thinks that big picture for Ivanovic could mean a good run at Wimbledon.

 

She said: “Ana is playing great. She takes the ball very early, and it’s really tough to get the rhythm with her. She has some good chances to play great [at Wimbledon].”

 

Rally for Bally

 

The women’s final stopped just as the rain began to fall, which was unfortunate as the Rally for Bally was scheduled afterwards. The exhibition match to honour Elena Baltacha, the former British No. 1 who sadly lost her brief battle with cancer this year started once the dripping clouds had relented, and we caught a glimpse of just how competitive Martina Navratilova is, just how much Tim Henman wished he was on a golf course as he mock-struggled with his back, and the fun between Ward (a late replacement for Queen’s doubles finalist Jamie Murray) and Ann Keothavong as the lanky British No. 3 kept lobbing the TV pundit over and over!

 

In between their many impromptu breaks, Master of Ceremonies Dan Lobb tried to whip up support for the charity, but here Koethavong came into her own. A peer of Baltacha, the pair grew up together, played together and shared a special relationship and times, when they paired up to play doubles at the London 2012 Olympics.

 

Keothavong stood up and challenged those enjoying the corporate seating and hospitality to dig deep and give to the Rally 4 Bally cause, with the proceeds split between the Royal Marsden Cancer Hospital and the Elena Baltacha Foundation which administers the tennis academy she set up while she was still competing.

 

There was maybe an added poignancy for Navratilova who won her own battle with breast cancer, and admiration from everyone for Baltacha’s achievements – to have reaching the World Top 50 while managing a chronic liver condition, opening an academy while still competing, coming back after every injury when others would have quit.

 

People may think that the tennis world is full of drama, and perhaps even a little selfish as one of the ultimate solitary sports. But for one day, in three locations, a 30-year-old who left us too soon brought many people together to put life in perspective for all of us.

 

 

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Ana Ivanovic and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova Shine in the Rain to Reach Birmingham Final

Ana Ivanovic photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Ana Ivanovic photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Chalkdust Chronicles – Stars shine in the rain

 

(June 14, 2014) BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – Yes we know that the Brits are obsessed with the weather, and one has to wonder whether they had an inside track to the Meteorological Office as it was a surprise to see Ana Ivanovic first up at the Aegon Classic. Well let’s face it, with no Sloane Stephens in the line-up, who else was going to kick things off!?

 

It was actually a worrisome start for the Serbian as Zhang Shuai started with a bit of gusto with an immediate break but Ivanovic spun off nine games in a row and by the time poor Zhang actually got back in the match, it was pretty much all over with a 6-2, 6-2 win.

 

“After slow start I really felt I picked up my rhythm and I played really well,” she said, ever the queen of understatement, but there is a real sense of maturity to Ivanovic that really started after Wimbledon when she called time on her two year coaching arrangement with Nigel Sears.

 

She has already snapped up two titles, a couple of wins over both Williams sisters – so another title is beckoning:

 

“It would mean a lot for me to have a title on grass. It’s been ‑ not to mention my age ‑ but ten years on tour and I never have title on grass.”

 

Ivanovic has come a long way from the excitable youngster that swept to a French Open title and the World No. 1 slot perhaps long before she was ready for all that, and there is something utterly engaging about her giggling her way through a press conference (when she’s won, anyway).

 

Perhaps the most amusing thing, when we look in the context of the young up-and-coming chasing packs of the Simona Haleps and Dominika Cibulkovas, her response when asked where she puts herself amongst these new-comers: “Unfortunately old. (Laughing.)“

 

Equally engaging has been she of the unnecessarily long surname – Barbora Zahlavova Strycova. She has crept through the draw where perhaps the top tip would have been someone from Down Under to grace the final, especially after a much-improved Sam Stosur fell to compatriot Casey Dellacqua. But the Czech also had a run of points that swept the momentum her way.

 

The second semi-final was beset with the rain, twice in one set and at 1-5 down in the tie-break, Zahlavova Strycova gave herself a bit of a talking to (and her coach too) and suddenly kicked into gear, taking the tie-break and going on to close out 7-6(5), 6-1.

 

Zahlavova Strycova was refreshingly frank about a six month suspension after testing positive a banned substance (sibutramine). Although the ingestion was deemed accidental and her sentence backdated and reduced, it still was a significant absence from the tour.

 

“First two months was tough. I didn’t want to play anymore because I felt like it’s really unfair what happened and I didn’t have motivation to come back.

 

“But thinking about it, I was also doing different things. I was living normal life, and I felt like I miss it. Then I start to practice, and I missed adrenaline, I missed the feeling of playing matches.

 

“Then I decided to come back. It was a good decision, and I see the tennis right now a little bit different than before. “

 

She has felt a little overwhelmed with her run here, and laughed when reminded that she trails Ivanovic 2-0 in their head to head, but those were on hard courts, and as we know – grass sorts out the wheat from the chaff, if you will excuse the agricultural metaphor.

 

Expect this to be a close one.

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Seeds stumble at the business end of Birmingham

Ana Ivanovic photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Ana Ivanovic photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Chalkdust Chronicles – Seeds stumble at the business end of Birmingham

 

(June 13, 2014) BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – Hot on the heels of Sam Stosur coming out on the losing side of an all-Aussie affair was Sloane Stephens at the Aegon Classic on Friday in Birmingham. Earlier in the week she was asked whether this would be her shot at a final, but it looks like the tennis world will still be waiting, as she was brushed aside by Zhang Shuai 6-3, 6-1 for a place in the semi-final.

 

For the third morning in a row the American was opening up proceedings on the Ann Jones Centre Court, and while she seemed to be moving a bit better on another sunny day in Birmingham, her timing and range were a might bit off.

 

Zhang is almost an anti-Sloane Stephens in terms of their successes at Slams verses the tour. Stephens is very much one for the bigger occasions while Zhang has yet to win her first R128 at a Grand Slam. In fact last year she all but missed them.

 

“Last year Australian Open, before I have injury and then I didn’t go to Australia. So French Open I have to play qualies, but I’m still in the Belgium, Brussels, still in the draw. So I don’t have chance to play qualies because same week I’m still in the draw. I can’t play two tournaments same week, so I miss the French Open.

 

“In Wimbledon I have in my country, China, have the national game, so very big tournament of Chinese player. So I stay in China play the national game, so I miss the third Grand Slam last year, Wimbledon. But I come to Wimbledon play doubles and mixed last year.”

 

More brushing aside, top seed Ana Ivanovic ploughed through a sometime tearful Klara Koukalova 6-1, 6-4 and proceeded to chatter enthusiastically about her plans after Birmingham.

 

“I’m going to actually be in London and train there and then, I have some also free time to go to the city a little bit and relax. We don’t get to do that much during the tournament, especially we stay in Wimbledon Village. It’s a good opportunity to do it the week before and let your hair down a little bit and not think too much about the matches yet. Then looking forward Wimbledon pre‑party.”

 

The dream run of Kimiko Date-Krumm ended a lot less glowingly than her great performance yesterday against defending champion Daniela Hantuchova, as it was her turn to be on the unfortunate end of a bagel.

 

Casey Dellacqua, who came back from a set down against fellow countrywoman Sam Stosur was on fire as Date-Krumm needed something a little more than her trademark tea to calm her fraying nerves as Dellacqua allowed the veteran just a single game in the match, as she sets up a semi-final against Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.

 

Play starts at 12pm BST with Ivanovic and Zhang, followed by Zahlavova Strycova v Dellacqua.

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Stephens and Ivanovic Advance, Stosur Beaten in Birmingham

DSC_83045027thursday stephens

Sloane Stephens photo by Christoper Levy @tennis_shots

 

Chalkdust Chronicles – More Sun and seeds still rolling

 

(June 12, 2014) BIRMINGHAM – It is a rare thing to have two days of sunshine, but prize of the day already (and we’re still only in the early stages of the matches on the slate for today) was Sloane Stephens who educated the waiting press on NCIS marathons that were keeping her from sleeping, and her opinion on the English football team and their penalty taking skills.

 

Stephens is enjoying a purple patch off a decent run on the dirt in Roland Garros, and the perhaps inevitable question of “When will we see you in a final” is more relevant here – she is playing pretty solidly and could well wind up in a semi-final at least with top seed Ana Ivanovic.

 

The smiling Serbian was, as always, upbeat about her time on the green stuff. He play today was pleasingly aggressive and she showed some great deftness with volleys as she pushed past Lauren Davis.

 

After the match she said: “I just felt the ball really good. I timed it well. I knew she’s a player who stays low in the grass and it can work well sometimes, so I really tried to stretch her and come forward. I did that well. I served pretty well. I got her out wide a lot and came in, hit some good volleys, which I was happy. And my coach, too.”

 

One seed who will not be in the lineup is Sam Stosur who came out on the wrong side of an all-Australian encounter after losing to Casey Dellacqua in three sets. She has never been able to get a win over her compatriot, even though the last time they met was 2003.

 

By and large the crowds have been good in this fair city, and the weather has been kind, but grass has been unforgiving, and it does not take long for the surface to scupper the hopes of even the most accomplished (Just ask Serena Williams!).

 

The highlights for Friday will be to see if Stephens can edge ever closer to a final, but Ivanovic is looking serene.

 

AEGON CLASSIC – BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND
$ 710,000.00
9-15 JUNE 2014

RESULTS – JUNE 12, 2014
Women’s
Singles – Third Round

[1] A Ivanovic (SRB) d L Davis (USA) 61 61
[16] C Dellacqua (AUS) d [2] S Stosur (AUS) 26 62 62
[3] S Stephens (USA) d [15] A Riske (USA) 76(4) 26 61
[4] K Flipkens (BEL) d [Q] A Wozniak (CAN) 16 75 64
[6] K Koukalova (CZE) d C Vandeweghe (USA) 36 76(3) 64
K Date-Krumm (JPN) d [7] D Hantuchova (SVK) 64 60
[9] S Zhang (CHN) d P Cetkovska (CZE) 60 76(6)
B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) d [LL] T Babos (HUN) 62 06 63

Women’s
Doubles – Quarterfinals

[3] R Kops-Jones (USA) / A Spears (USA) d H Chan (TPE) / Y Chan (TPE) 67(5) 76(5) 10-0
C Garcia (FRA) / S Zhang (CHN) d K Date-Krumm (JPN) / B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) 16 61 10-7

ORDER OF PLAY – FRIDAY, JUNE 13, 2014
ANN JONES CENTRE COURT start 11:00 am
[3] S Stephens (USA) vs [9] S Zhang (CHN)
[1] A Ivanovic (SRB) vs [6] K Koukalova (CZE)
K Date-Krumm (JPN) vs [16] C Dellacqua (AUS)
B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) vs [4] K Flipkens (BEL)

COURT 1 start 1:00 pm
[1] C Black (ZIM) / S Mirza (IND) vs D Jurak (CRO) / M Moulton-Levy (USA)
TBA – After suitable rest – L Huber (USA) / L Raymond (USA) vs [2] A Barty (AUS) / C Dellacqua (AUS)

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Ana Ivanovic Beaten in Third Round of Roland Garros

Lucie Safarova

Lucie Safarova

(May 31, 2014) 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic’s dreams of a second Paris title were dashed on Satruday, when the 11th seed was beaten by 23rd seed Lucie Safarova 6-3, 6-3. It was Ivanovic’s fifth straight loss to the Czech woman. Safarova is now 5-2 against the Serb.

Safarova will play 2009 French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova who had to battle past fifth seed Petra Kvitova 6-7 (3), 6-1, 9-7 in an over three-hour match.

Fifteenth seed Sloane Stephens advanced into the French Open’s fourth round for the third straight time with a 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 22 Ekaterina Makarova.

Stephens will face off against No. 4 Simona Halep for a place in the quarterfinals. Neither woman has ever reached the final eight in Paris.

Due to the upsets on No. 1 Serena Williams, No. 2 Li Na and No. 3 Agnieszska Radwanska, Halep is the top women’s seed remaining at Roland Garros.

“That’s a surprise for everyone,” said Halep. “Is not easy to be the (top) seeded now, during the tournament. But I try just to keep — the pressure (away).”

 

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Maria Sharapova Three-Peats in Stuttgart

 

(April 27, 2014) It was a three-peat for Maria Sharapova in Stuttgart on Sunday. Sharapova came back from 3-6, 1-3 down to stop Ana Ivanovic 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 to win her third straight Porsche Grand Prix crown. She is now on a 13-match winning streak at the event.

It’s the Russian’s 30th career WTA title, the first of 2014. She is now third in titles among active players behind Serena and Venus Williams. With her eighth WTA clay court title win, Sharapova now trails just Anabel Medina Garrigues (10), Serena Williams (10) and Venus Williams (9) for most WTA clay court titles among current players.

“For the first half of the match I thought it might not be my day today, but somehow I turned it around,” Sharapova said. I had quite a slow beginning to the year, but me and my team have been working hard to get in the position to win titles again, and I’m so happy to be able to do it in Stuttgart.”

“From the first moment it was always a close match. It was always a few close balls to decide each game, and it went on the whole match. In the second set she definitely went for those big shots, though, and she made some amazing point,” Ivanovic said. “She’s just a great player, and that’s what happens when you play against great players in big matches like this. You need to use your opportunities.”

Sharapova joined boyfriend Grigor Dimitrov in the winner’s circle on Sunday. Dimitrov won the title in Bucharest, his third career ATP title.

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Ana Ivanovic Wins Monterrey

Ivanovic stretch fh

(April 6, 2014) In an all-Serbian final Ana Ivanovic won the Monterrey Open on Sunday, defeating Jovana Jaksic 6-2, 6-1 for her second WTA title of the year. Ivanovic also won the Auckland tournament in January.

“I think we both enjoyed the final tonight – it was very special for our country, it was the first time two players from our country were in a WTA final together,” Ivanovic said after the match to WTAtennis.com. “It was also great to see Jovana doing so well this week. I think she definitely has a bright future ahead of her.

“Last year I lost very early here in Monterrey but I had so much fun that I wanted to come back, so to make it this far this year is amazing. And every title is so special. I had some tough matches this week but I feel so happy to get through each of them, and this title is definitely one of my favorites.”

It’s Ivanovic’s 13th title of her career

It was a career week for Jasic who reached her first WTA tour final, beating Kimiko Date-Krumm in the semis. Before this week she had only won one WTA Tour level match.

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