It has been a rough few weeks for Ana since losing to Agnieszka Radwanska at the Australian Open. Since then, she has won only two of her last four matches, with her most recent loss coming once again to Radwanska in Doha this past Thursday. During this period, she suffered pain in her shoulder which forced her to withdraw from Fed Cup and caused her serving problems in her opening round loss to Ayumi Morita in Pattaya City. It hasn’t been an ideal February so far for Ivanovic, and she has one more tournament to get things straighten out before she arrives in Indian Wells, where she has semifinal points to defend from last year.
Next week won’t be any easier in Dubai. Ivanovic has drawn Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the opening round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. If she can survive this first round encounter, Ana will likely find herself squaring off against Petra Kvitova in the second round. Kvitova is such an unpredictable player, who can be really bad one day and yet nearly unbeatable the next. Kvitova has struggled much in recent months, but nearly took out the new world #1 Serena Williams in Doha yesterday, losing a tight three set battle. Should Ivanovic and Kvitova meet, it would be a really intriguing match-up to say the least.
If Ana navigates herself through what will likely be two tough matches, she could once again find herself across the net from Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarterfinals. Ana just cannot avoid the Pole these days, drawing her in the same quarter for the third consecutive tournament in which the two competed in. It’s a bit reminiscent to 2010/2011 when Ivnaovic and Clijsters always seemed to find themselves in the same section of the draw. Ana has lost six consecutive matches to Radwanska dating back to 2009, though all their matches have been at least somewhat competitive. Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki are possible semifinal opponents. But who are we kidding? Chances are very slim Ana gets this far.
The tough draw should come to a surprise to no one. Dubai is only a 32 player draw in a premier event, so her draw was going to be difficult regardless. Though, it certainly could have been easier. Dubai will be a big test for Ivanovic, and if she wants to become a top 10 player again, she has to start winning these tough matches. It has been seen over and over again, but she as yet to do it. Ana has quarterfinal points to defend from last year, with semifinal points in Indian Wells on deck. Now is the time to step up.