Ana finds herself in the third round of the Wimbledon for the second consecutive year, after two hard fought wins over Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez and Kateryna Bondarenko. While both matches looked routine for Ana on paper, they were anything but on the court.
Ivanovic was originally scheduled to play her opening round match on Tuesday, but due to lack of lighting and courts to play on, her first match versus Martinez Sanchez was postponed until Wednesday. It frustrating for her fans who waited anxiously all day to see her play, only to learn we had to wait yet another day. When Ana finally did get on court the following morning, she didn’t exactly cruise to victory like many were expecting her to. While Ivanovic took the opening set 6-3, MJMS battled back to take the 2nd set by the same scoreline.
Ana found herself in perilous position. She was now in a 3rd set, after dropping the 2nd. Ivanovic has tended not do so well in these situations the past few years. To find the last time Ana had won a a 3rd set after dropping the 2nd, you have to go back to Bali 2010, where she accomplished the feat against Kimiko Date-Krumm in the Bali semi-finals. Doom and gloom hovered over Ana nation, as another disappointing first round exit looked possible on the horizon. To Ana’s credit, she didn’t allow the previous set to bother her, as she calmly took care of business, winning the 3rd set 6-3 to secure the victory. It wasn’t her best performance, as her serve betrayed on several occasions throughout the match, but she got through nonetheless. At the end of the day, you just want to get the first win under your belt, any way possible, and that is what she did.
Yesterday, playing for the second straight day, Ana faced off against Kateryna Bondarenko. There’s a lot of history between these two. Ivanovic and Bondarenko squared off in the Wimbledon Girls Junior finals back in 2004, a match in which K-Bond would take in three sets. Bondarenko would defeat Ana again in Stuttgart in 2007. However, the match Ana fans remember most was their last meeting in the opening round of the 2009 US Open. In that showdown, Ivanovic held a match point in the 3rd set tiebreak, only to let it go to waste on an unforced error off her trademark forehand shot. Bondarenko double faulted on her first match point, but on her second, Ivanovic hit another forehand shot into the bottom of the net, dumping her out of the opening round of a slam for the first time ever in her career. Some would rank it has the most heartbreaking loss of her career. Ivanovic herself admitted that it was perhaps the lowest moment of her own career. Winless against the Ukrainian, Ana was looking to finally breakthrough with a win, and finally get sweet revenge for that US Open loss.
It begin sloppily for Ana, who exchanged breaks with Bondarenko early on in the 1st set. But Ana finally settled down, winning four consecutive games to take the opening set 6-3. Like yesterday though, Ana begin to unravel in the 2nd set. After falling behind 0-3, Ana got herself back on serve, only to immediately give the break right back. In a 2-5 hole, Ivanovic looked as if she was destined for yet another three set contest. She was able to climb herself out of it however, leveling the set at 5-all. After both players held serve, they went to a tiebreak. The last time Ana played a tiebreak at Wimbledon, she didn’t even win a single point. Ana played as bad as as a tiebreak as you’ll ever see, when she lost 7-0 last year to Petra Cetkovska. Well today, the roles were in reverse. Ana jumped out to a 6-0 lead, with the help of three Bondarenko double faults. K-Bond was able to cut the deficit in half, but Ana finally converted on her fourth match point to secure herself a spot in the third round.
These were not the smoothest of victories. In fact, these last two matches are matches that Ana probably should have won much more easily than she did. Despite the subpar level of play, Ana gutted out a couple of victories that in the past, would probably had been loses. On back to back days, Ana won a three-setter and a tiebreak, two things that have haunted her these past couple of years. That has to be a bit encouraging, and a little bit of a confidence booster for her going forward. Let us not forget, Ana didn’t get the proper preparation that she would have liked due to the groin injury which sidelined her the prior two weeks.
Up next for Ana is Julia Goerges on Saturday. This match has the potential to be quite a duel, as both players are fully capable of hitting a plentiful amount winners around the court with their huge forehands. It is also (and more likely) possible, that this could be one giant error fest. Grass is Goerges least favorite surface, if you go by her past results. Ana should be favored in this one, but not by a whole lot. I expect this to be a tightly contested match that goes three sets, with lots of pretty tennis (by two very pretty ladies), and some shit tennis mixed in. This could be lots of fun. Or not.
As far as the rest of Ana’s draw is concerned, Azarenka has look pretty solid so far in her opening two round matches. In the section opposite to Ana’s in her quarter of the draw, the two biggest seeds have already been knocked out of the tournament. Wozniacki went out in round one, while Bartoli went out yesterday. If Ana can get past Goerges, and find a way to upset Azarenka in the fourth round, she could be looking at a semi-final berth. Alright, alright, one match at a time. Can’t a man dream?