On Sunday, the Brisbane International tournament begins, to kick off a new year of tennis. It will be the first of three consecutive tournaments in which Ana will compete in to start the new season. She will also play in Sydney the following week, then the Australian Open the week after. Ana has already arrived in Brisbane, where she met with the media today and practiced at Pat Rafter Arena.
Today, the draw was done, and lets just say, it wasn’t quite what we were hoping for. Ana will open up against Tamira Paszek, which is a winnable match, but from there, it gets really difficult. Ana will face Kim Clijsters in the 2nd round, assuming Clijsters gets past her 1st round opponent Simona Halep. Yes, Ana has drawn Kim in her part of the draw again. It feels like every time these two are in the same event, they always seem to somehow land close to each other in the draw. So I decided to do a little research. Since Cincinnati 2010, Ivanovic and Clijsters have competed in 8 tournaments together. In 6 of the 8 tournaments, they either landed in the same section or same quarter of the draw. If you recall, the last time these two met was in Miami, where Ana had a 5-1 lead in the 3rd set and a grand total of 5 match points, which she was unable to convert. Ana went on to lose that match, and it has become one of the more painful memories of any Ana fans recollection. Ana surely will be looking for revenge, and it would be quite a confidence lift for her to start the new season. If Ana is able to pull the upset over Kim, it would likely set up a match up between her and US Open champion and home town favorite Samantha Stosur in the quarter finals. If Ana is able to advance beyond this point, Serena Williams could await in the semi finals. Brutal draw is brutal. The top half is where all the big names are at. It’s too bad Ana didn’t find herself in the bottom half, which is much less difficult to navigate through. If you want to blame somebody, blame Jelena Jankovic. She is the one who did the draw. I kid, of course.
The positive is, Ana has no points to defend this week, as she played Hopman Cup this time last year. So there are only points to be gained. Getting those points however is easier said than done. What are my expectations? I really have none. I’ll just take things one match at a time and hope for the best. It will be interesting to see how Ana comes out after spending the past month working with Nigel on her game. Will she continue to show the improvements that she was making in the latter stages of the 2011 season? Can she stay healthy this year? All big questions which yet have answers. Hopefully we’ll get some idea this week, although, we really won’t get any clear answer until at least after the Australian Open. For right now, it’s the start of a new year, new season. It’s a fresh start, and hope and optimist reigns.
It’s still unknown when Ana will play her first match. It could be either Sunday or Monday. Remember, Brisbane is 15 hours ahead of the east coast of the US, so prepare ahead of time. We’ll update you with the order of play as soon as one comes out.