Ana Ivanovic will be coming into this year’s Wimbledon without having played a single match on grass. The last time she played a match on this surface was in her 3rd round defeat to Petra Cetkovska last year at the All England Club. Ana suffered an groin strain, which forced her out of Eastbourne. She is expected to be alright for Wimbledon, but nonetheless, it is something to look out for. Ivanovic suffered the injury during the French Open and its impact on her play will be one of the big question marks going into next week.
As for Ana’s draw, she will open up against Spaniard Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez. As most of you can recall, these two have met once before in the 2010 Rome semifinals, a match in which Martinez-Sanchez won 6-4, 6-2. MJMS loves to use the drop shot and is lefty, something that gives Ana fits. That being said, she has struggled this year with an 4-8 record on the season, losing this past week in her opening round match in Eastbourne to Laura Robson. If healthy, Ana really shouldn’t have much difficulty getting through this match.
Awaiting in the 2nd round would be either Kimiko Date-Krumm or Kateryna Bondarenko. Ivanovic has dominated Kimiko, holding a 4-0 career record versus her (all four matches played since end of 2010), winning their last three encounters relatively easily. Bondarenko on the other hand, holds a 2-0 record against the Serb, and handed Ana one of her most heartbreaking defeats of her career in the first round of the 2009 US Open, knocking Ana out in a 3rd set tiebreak, after Ana had a match point herself. Ivanovic will certainly be seeking revenge for that defeat, if these two were to meet.
In the third round, Ivanovic could go up against either Julia Goerges or Shahar Peer. Ana defeated Peer in the 2nd round of the French Open just a few weeks ago. As for Goerges, Ana holds a 3-1 head-to-head advantage over the German, winning their last meeting on grass in Eastbourne, last June. Goerges hasn’t had much success on grass in her career and hasn’t been playing well as of late. Her style of play is very similar to Ana’s. Assuming she is healthy, I would have to say Ivanovic would be the favorite in this round, regardless of opponent. Other possible foes are Anastasiya Yakimova and Mandy Minella.
Ana hasn’t reached the fourth round at Wimbledon since 2009, where she lost the first set 6-1 to Venus Williams, before retiring early in the 2nd set. If Ana were to get that far again this year, her likely encounter would be with world #2 Viktoria Azarenka. Vika has a relatively easy path to this point, so barring a major upset, she would be what is standing in the way between Ana and her first quarterfinal appearance at a slam since Roland Garros 2008. They have split their four meetings, with Azarenka taking the last one in Madrid, 6-4, 6-4. Ana put up a good fight, leading 4-1 in the first set, but couldn’t hold on. Vika would no doubt be favored if the two were to meet again, but Ana has shown she has what it takes to defeat her, doing so twice in 2010. As Steve Tignor points out in his Wimbledon preview, most of Ana’s recent loses have come against top ranked players, and she is due for a big win. Hence, he has Ana reaching the semi-finals. While I am not as optimistic as Tignor is, I agree with his basic premise. Ana is going to break through sooner or later with a big win at a slam, to finally put her over that fourth round hump. Why not now?
Caroline Wozniacki and Marion Bartoli are potential quarterfinal opponents, should Ana get that far. Defending Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova and Serena Williams are possible semifinal opponents.
It’s hard to predict how Ana will do given the uncertain status of her health. As we have learned nothing is a certainty with Ana. But if I had to make a prediction at this moment, I would say fourth round. A fourth round appearance would be an improvement over last year’s 3rd round showing, but the obvious goal is to reach the quarterfinals. As I say in every tournament, one match at a time.
Ana will play her first match on Tuesday.