Ana went down in defeat today to world #1 Viktoria Azarenka, 6-4, 6-4. The third round exit marks Ana’s best performance of her career at the Mutua Madrid Open, having defeated Mathilde Johansson and Nadia Petrova in the 1st and 2nd rounds respectively. Unfortunately for the rest of us fans, we were unable to see any of it, thanks to the lack of television coverage. That is inexcusable for a tournament with premier mandatory status.
Things started off well for Ana as she jumped out to an early 4-1 lead. Everything seemed to be clicking for her, but it didn’t last. Azarenka stormed back, winning the next 5 games to take the opening set, 6-4. Ana fell behind an early break in the 2nd set, and eventually found herself down a double break at 1-4. Ivanovic didn’t give in though and made it a contest. She recovered one of the breaks and eventually got to within a game of Azarenka at 4-5. With Vika serving for the match, Ana had 3 set points to get things back on serve at 5 all, but failed to convert on any of them. Azarenka finally converted on one of her several match points to secure the 6-4, 6-4 victory.
For a brief moment it looked like this might be a redux of the 2010 Cincinnati event, in which Ana came back from a set and a couple breaks down in the 2nd. It wasn’t meant to be this time. Still, you have to admire Ana’s fighting spirit. She fought to the very end and almost caught Vika there in the 2nd set. Aside from a few bad games in the middle of the match, Ana’s serve seemed to be working well, as was the case in her previous match against Nadia Petrova. There are promising signs for the Serb, who will now head to Rome for next weeks Italian tournament. We’ll see what she can do there, in her final warm up event before the French Open. Ana did reach the semifinals in Rome, two years ago in 2010.
At the end of the day, Ana wins two matches in Madrid and picks up 140 ranking points. Ranking is likely to remain at #15 next week, but she is getting closer to those right in front of her, and will no doubt be passing a few of them shortly.