Coming into today’s match between Ana Ivanovic and Kim Clijsters, one thing hovered over almost every Ana fan’s mind; their last meeting in Miami, last March. As you all know, Ana held a 5-1 lead in the 3rd set and got it to 0-40 on Kim’s serve, but blew 5 match points and lost the match in the most heartbreaking fashion. It was like a punch in the gut and something we all wish we could forget. Today, Ana had a chance to redeem herself and finally get her first victory over her friend Kim Clijsters. For a few moments at least, it looked like it just might happen.
Early on, however, it looked like it would be a quick day at the office for Kim, as she dominated in the 1st set, taking it 6-1. But Ana turned things around in the 2nd set, with the help of some Clijster’s errors to take the 2nd set 6-1. It was like a replay of the 1st set, but with the roles reversed, as Ana dominated and Kim struggled. Ana then jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the 3rd set and had a break point to go up 4-0. At this point, it was just impossible not to think of their last match, but certainly, we were all hoping history wouldn’t repeat itself. But unfortunately, that was not the case. Ana did not convert on that break point and right after that, Kim took her game to another level and Ana couldn’t match. While Kim’s performance went up a notch, Ana begin to fade away, and with that, Kim won 6 straight games to close out the match and grab her 5th straight victory over Ana.
While it wasn’t as heartbreaking as Ana’s last loss to Kim, it still hurt. Ana found herself in a very similar position, and the result was the same as the last time. It’s too bad because a win would had really been a big confidence booster to start the new year, and that is what Ana needs right now, confidence. You get that by beating top players and here was Ana’s chance, yet it slipped away once again. There were positive signs, though. She competed well and played great for about a 10 game stretch. She just needs to find consistency and close out these kind of matches. If Ana is to ever to be a top player again, this is a must. But it was still only the 2nd match of the season and she still should be encouraged by her play. While there is still need for improvements (specifically her backhand), you get the sense she has a game plan to work with, aided by Nigel. It will be interesting to see how she responds next week in Sydney. And we must give credit to Kim as well, she played fantastic tennis when she needed to and that is why she is the champion that she is.
(Pic via Getty)