Coming off two rather convincing wins in the first couple rounds at the French Open, Ana was looking to reach the fourth round of a major for the third consecutive time. Sadly, it just wasn’t meant to be.
Early on, things were looking really good for Ana. She continued to display the spectacular hitting that got her through the first two rounds without a sweat. She hit 16 winners to just 3 unforced errors. Ana was dominating Errani, despite her 48% first serve percentage, and looked to be cruising to another relatively routine victory. Unfortunately, she was unable to sustain the great form.
Things begin to get frustrating in the second set, for both Ana and her fans. Ivanvoic saved two break points to hold at 1-1, However, in her next service game, Ana was unable to convert on three game points and was eventually broken by Errani. The two exchanged breaks in the next couple of games, before Ana got things back on serve. Down 5-6, Ana was broken for the third time of the 2nd set, dropping the set 7-5 to the Italian. It was off to an decisive third set, which in recent years, haven’t been too kind to Ana.
Ana opened the third set with a break, only to give it right back. After Errani held to go up 2-1, Ana hit two consecutive double faults to fall behind a break, 1-3. Ana was able to recover the break immediately in the next game, but the struggles on her serve continued afterwards. Ivanovic was broken to love, with Errani consolidating the break in the next game. Down 2-5, Ana was in a huge hole and playing some pretty erratic tennis. She held, to keep herself in the match, but Errani served things out, defeating Ana 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 to advance to the fourth round.
As great as Ana was in the first set, her form dropped significantly in the second and third. During the second set, Ivanovic’s winners to unforced errors ratio was an even 16 to 16, compared to 16 to 3 in the first set. Where Ana was consistently good in the first, she was inconsistent in the second. Things got worse in the third set where she was more consistent, but on the bad side. Ivanvic hit only 10 winners to 20 unforced errors in the decisive set. Surprisingly, her first serve percentage went up each set from 48% to 52% and then 55% respectively. Ana was hitting her ground strokes cleanly through the first two matches and the first set today. In the final two sets, she got more erratic with each game. She just mentally self-destructed.
As well as Ana played for much of this week, it’s hard not to call this French Open a disappointment. Many of us, myself included, had high hopes coming in. Her form lead me to believe she really could breakthrough here and make a run into the second week. Ana’s draw opened up as well. After Ana went down in defeat, Svetlena Kuznetova, who Ivanovic had defeated in Rome just a few weeks ago 6-4, 6-3, had taken out the #3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-2. Now given the way Kuznetsova played today, it was not a given Ana would have beaten her in the fourth round. After all, Kuznetsova defeated Ana at Fed Cup just a little over a month ago. But nonetheless, Ana’s draw really did open up and she had an great opportunity of reaching her first quarterfinal at a slam in four years, possibly even the semifinals. This only made today’s loss hurt just a little more.
Four years removed from her French Open triumph, Ana has yet to reach a quarterfinals at a major in her last 16 tries. Ana’s past four Roland Garros appearances have featured an 4rth, 2nd, 1st and 3rd round exit. Can she snap the qarterless streak at Wimbledon? We’ll see. Ana has a shot of being a top 12 seed if Dominika Cibulkova doesn’t reach the quarterfinals in Paris. That means Ana will avoid playing a top four seed in the fourth round, though she still could get Serena Williams. Anyways, she’ll have to get there first for that even to happen, and nothing is a guarantee with Ana.
At the end of they day, Ana is playing better tennis than she has been for much of the past 3-4 years. Nigel Sears has really helped her game a lot. However, she still needs to find more consistency and fix up that serve. She’s making progress, but still has little ways to go until being an elite player again. I’m confident that she will eventually get there, it’s just been a really slow process with lots of frustrating bumps in the road. I guess this beats losing to Johanna Larsson in the first round last year. On to the next stop, Eastbourne.