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Ana Ivanovic upsets Serena Williams in fourth round at Australian Open

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Ana Ivanovic stunned Serena Williams in the Round of 16. (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Ana Ivanovic stunned Serena Williams in the Round of 16. (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE, Australia — No. 14 Ana Ivanovic stunned five-time champion Serena Williams 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the fourth round of the Australian Open on Sunday.

In a controlled performance against the No. 1 seed, Ivanovic cast aside the demons that have plagued her since ascending to the top of the game nearly six years ago when she won her one and only major, at the 2008 French Open. A Grand Slam champion and world No. 1 at just 20, Ivanovic never again played with the freedom and joy that got her there. The pressure and expectations were crippling for the shy Serb, who wanted nothing more than to escape the spotlight and attention. Turns out, she didn’t exactly like toiling away in tennis’ dark and lonely shadows either.

“I was in a little bit not the best place in my mind,” Ivanovic said after the match. “2010 was a little bit hard in the beginning. But you just keep fighting because this is what I love to do and this is what I’m best at. I still am so young and I deserve a better chance and a better shot at it.”

Unless you were paying close attention, little foreshadowed this result. Sure, Ivanovic was undefeated in 2014 after winning a lead-up tournament in Auckland, New Zealand, two weeks ago for her first title since 2011. The 26-year-old had also been playing fantastic offensive tennis, as showcased by her three-set win over No. 17 Samantha Stosur in the third round. She hit 46 winners to Stosur’s 21, with 31 from her powerful forehand. And if you looked closely during her post-match interviews, there was a calmness surrounding Ivanovic. Her victories weren’t leaving her over the moon. They made her believe she could do it again.

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Ivanovic’s win over Williams was a triumph in both execution and psychology. She smacked 33 winners, including 20 on the forehand side. How many forehand winners did Williams hit? Only two. (In fact, 13 Williams’ 22 winners overall were aces.) For years, Ivanovic has played with an air of desperation. She has squandered big leads over top opponents because of nerves. In the past, her incessant fist-pumping after every point was a sign of insecurity, a woman who needed to remind herself after every point that, yes, she could win.

So even with a break lead early in the final set, an Ivanovic victory seemed far off. She was on a roll in every facet of the game, swatting return winners off Williams’ second serve and stepping in to control as many rallies as possible with her forehand. There would be no wobble this time: Ivanovic held her final two service games at love. For a player who has struggled with her serve over the years, Ivanovic faced just three break points in the match, all in the first set. Williams went nine consecutive games without earning a break point.

Ivanovic beat Williams for the first time in five attempts, snapped the 17-time major champion’s 25-match winning streak and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open for the first time since 2008.

“There were moments in the match where it could have gone either way,” Ivanovic said. “I could have just made few more errors. But I really just believed in my game and stepped up when I needed to. I had to break a spell — fourth round — and what’s the better place to do it than here against such a champion?”

Of course, the big elephant in the room when discussing Ivanovic’s powerful display is the health of Williams’ back, which she injured before her third-round match against Daniela Hantuchova. While Serena was coy about the injury, coach Patrick Mouratoglou revealed that the pain was so bad that Williams almost withdrew before playing Hantuchova.

“I don’t know how she won against Hantuchova because it was 10 times worse than today,” Mouratoglou said. “Today was a combination of not being able to move like she usually moves and was in bad positions, but also the fact that Ana played a great match.”

Williams also complimented Ivanovic while lamenting her own play.

“I made a tremendous amount of errors, shots I missed I normally don’t miss; I haven’t missed since the ’80s,” Williams said. “I’m always disappointed when I lose, but it’s always a good thing. I plan on getting better. It’s almost good that I lost because now I know what to work on.

“Maybe I wasn’t the best physically, but that had nothing to do with it. Ana just played a really good match. She did what it takes to win.”

Ivanovic credits her new Serbian team for her recent spate of positive thinking and belief. After years of high-profile coaches, including Sven Groeneveld, Heinz Gunthard  and Nigel Sears, she brought in a new team and the end of last year, headed by coach Nemanja Kontic.

“Sometimes a coach can look good on paper,” Ivanovic said earlier in the week. “But when you team up with someone, it doesn’t work out that way. I really tried to also listen to a lot of people’s advice. It wasn’t always the right choice. I made some mistakes because of this.”

The decision to go with a less “brand name” coaching team seems to have signaled a desire for Ivanovic to take control of her own career. There is also undoubtedly less pressure for her to perform at her best all the time to earn her coach’s respect.

“In the past, I’ve been listening too much to what people are saying, what they thought was good for me,” Ivanovic said. “I didn’t really listen to my inner instincts or what my gut was telling me. This time I really thought, This is my career and I have to turn toward me and just see what works out for me. I made that decision. I didn’t regret it for one moment.”

Kontic may not have much of an established résumé, but it turns out he’s been exactly what she needed. One of the biggest benefits of the coaching change has been the ease with which Ivanovic can now communicate her feelings. Though Ivanovic communicates almost flawlessly in English, never underestimate the power of shared culture and language, especially when building a relationship founded on trust.

“There is no secret,” Ivanovic said. “Every country has its own mentality, its own way to see things and to do things. We can really understand each other with less words. Even when I’m in doubt, I can express myself better and they can answer me better.”

Ivanovic will play No. 30 Eugenie Bouchard in the quarterfinals.

  • Published On Jan 18, 2014
  • 66 comments
    JezebelAi
    JezebelAi

    “Maybe I wasn’t the best physically, but that had nothing to do with it. Ana just played a really good match. She did what it takes to win.”


    I mean, what else do you want someone to say?  She lost.  She hates losing, but her opponent brought it and did what was needed to win.  She knows it and admitted it.  Geesh! Give the girl a break already!  Anyone can see that she was injured in round 3 even though she won.  

    JezebelAi
    JezebelAi

    Well, it does not matter now.  Ivanovic lost the next round and cited being drained by the match with Serena (a clearly diminished Serena at that) as the reason she could not bring her best against Bouchard. Bouchard has a sweet game and what appears to be a great competitive spirit.  I am impressed by how she played.  I had not seen her before.  

    PastorBurt
    PastorBurt

    Dear Readers:

    The observations in this article are silly and without substance.  Ivanovic did not beat Serena Williams.   She beat an injured Serena Williams.   Sloan Stephens did not have a breakthrough with against Serena Williams in last years Australian Open.   Sloan Stephens instead secured a victory over a diminished and injured Serena Williams.  

    If you look at the WTA Championship matches closely you will see that Serena Williams almost lost there as well, and for the same reason:   Serena Williams has a bad back.  Steffi Graft has said that Serena Williams will become the greatest player of all times IF SHE REMAINS HEALTHY.   Serena Williams health is the only issue.   When Serena Williams is healthy, no-one can beat her.

    Bad backs historically have ended the career’s of many athletes.   For example, the only reason Andrea Agassi retired was because he had two swollen vertebra and a bone spur in his spine producing terrible pain.   When Serena Williams stops playing, it will not be because of superior competition or the lack of will but because her back failed her.

    Frankly, Serena Williams dealing with this back problem has been up to now short sighted and essential denial.  After her loss to Ivanovic, the diminished Serena Williams  made these observations.   She confessed that she was on strong medication and that she nearly pulled out of match with Daniela Hantuchova.  She stated, I almost pulled out. I'm such a competitor. I mean, I probably should have.

    So the problem was again her back, just as an injury to her back took her out of the Australian Open last year against Sloane Stephens, and just as it nearly took her out of the year-end WTA championship this last December.

    If drugs could fix a back, Andrea Agassi would still be playing. He couldn't and Serena Williams can not gut this out either.  Masking the pain only causes the injury to worsen by continued play.

    Serena knows better and I am hoping that her common sense will soon kick in.   She should be strongly instructing those in her team that have advised her to take these drugs that she will not be doing so in the future.

    After all Serena Williams is a “vegan”.   She lives by beliefs and rules that preclude her from eating a long list of foods, that this world otherwise foolishly thinks are perfectly fine.   She daily refuses ingesting many things into her temple.  Based upon her own good judgement, I expect Serena to sooner than later put an end to the use of drugs for the masking of pain.

    In my opinion, Serena Williams must and hopefully will take a more holistic approach that will work to successfully extend her career for many years.   What Serena Williams can do and should do is add to Team Serena a good chiropractor (one or more if necessary) to travel with her.   This Doctor, this profession should be on her team to realign her back after every practice and match she participates in.  Likewise, she should have the same chiropractic team align the soft tissues in her spine daily after practices even when she is in training in between tournaments.

    By taking this non-drug approach, Serena will essentially recover in most instances over night with no side affects.   Even if she did not fully recover overnight, you would still be likely fit enough to play certainly every two days.   If her back does act up, the injury will be much less because she will already be in a form of daily therapy to minimize the horrific results.  She can not gut this out.  Serena Williams needs professional that will competently deal with the problem just like every professional tennis player has their rackets restrung before matches.   Having her back professionally realigned should be as fundamental to Serena Williams professional routine after a match or practice as taking a shower or put on her makeup.  This approach will cure her and it will work. 

    The drug approach will destroy her.  Medication just masks the injury, but does not heal that which is crippling Serena Williams as an athlete competitively.  Pain is the body’s way of telling the athlete that the the athlete is injured.   Serena Williams should therefore proactively deal with the injury even before the injury occurs rather than use drugs to mask its existence.   This is not something her trainer is capable of doing.   She needs a doctor on staff to deal with this issue.

    Further,  Serena Williams should stop playing doubles at tournament.   When Serena Williams gets done with a singles match, she can not afford to put more strain on her back prior to the next singles match.  Serena Williams is not a kid any more.  She should have two days to recover in between matches at these tournaments.   Our bodies have built in expiration dates base upon usage, so if you use it in time you simply loose it.  I realize doubles are fun and it helps Serena feel comfortable coming to net.   But from now on, Serena should play her doubles in non-tournament environments, not at tournaments.  Her body is her career and it’s like money.  She should not spend any of it on anything which precludes her from reaching her goals.  Venus loves Serena and Serena her.  Venus will understand, but Serena has to stop with this false macho Superman imitation.   The only one being fooled by this imitation is Serena herself.   She is not indestructible.  She should let it go, and save herself for singles.

    I deeply admire Serena Williams.  I hope she will be convinced to take these necessary steps to preserve her athletic abilities.   If she does, she will succeed in all her goals   If she does not, there will be less wins and her career like Andrea Agassi’s will come to end sooner than later.

    Love

    Pastor Burt Wilkins.

    DerekReis
    DerekReis

    So when does Serena lose because she's getting older?  It happens to all the great athletes in history, you can't beat father time.    Maybe her back did hurt, but it also could be because she is going to turn 33 this year and it happens to the best of them.  Serena fans better start getting used to it.  I am just stating facts.  The human body can only withstand so much before it starts breaking down at every little turn.  

    Bluelegs
    Bluelegs

    Love her, hate her or don't care about her, when she is on, Serena Williams is the best woman to ever play the game. Sometimes she looks like yuk (when she wears black leather on the court), sometimes she talks like yuk (when she threatened to shove a tennis ball down a lineswomen's throat), but when she hits a ball like she can hit the ball, it is a marvelous thing to see.

    saveserve325
    saveserve325

    That's ok,Serena. Heal,rest,and practice. We love you and we sincerely want you to win more majors!

    standrkm
    standrkm

    hahah yes!!! I don't know whether I'm more happy Ana won or Serena lost, probably more happy Serena lost but still happy Ana is finding her game

    nygiants56
    nygiants56

    Why eery time this woman loses a reference needs to be made to an injury she has? One of the great tennis players of all time and thoroughly unlikeable. 

    sunalsorises
    sunalsorises

     "I'm going to shove this ball down your f------ throat"


    Stay classy and for the love of humanity, learn some sportsmanship.

    joyer29
    joyer29

    Wow! Probably the best looking woman in all of tennis. Win means she may be around a bit longer.

    AlexaMoore
    AlexaMoore

    GO ANA!!!!!! TOOOO SRPKINJO!!!! <3<3<3<3 SERBIAN PRINCESS

    jamie11230
    jamie11230

    Serena is a smart woman, and I'm sure someone has told her how unbecoming it is to be such a sore loser, always saying that it was her bad play, not the other player, that determined the outcome.  For her sake I hope she starts listening.

    cdns211
    cdns211

    Good for Anna to have won, and whether Serena's back was a factor or not is hardly material. A win is a win, and Anna got it.

    That said, this comments section which hardly gets a comment or two on most articles is filled up with gloating posts and a few snide ones against Serena, and unless the world has suddenly discovered a whole bunch of dormant Anna fans, the obvious read is that we are again invaded by the usual pathetic dw$$bs that are haters of Serena who come rushing out every time she loses a match. You can be sure that the next match Anna wins will not see anywhere close to this many congratulatory comments. That is too bad because Serena still has 17 slams and these pathetic haters are still living in woodwork.

    KLbgrass
    KLbgrass

    Bullshittery and excuses are not flattering traits, Ivanovich walks the walk!!

    6marK6
    6marK6

    And as Serena said in the press conference, she lost because she had a back injury, but give credit to Ivanovic. Yeah, OK...

    ElvisHitler
    ElvisHitler

    Awesome, the way hotter individual won. Also, the one who isn't on roids won. Great Win Ana.

    PetePoster
    PetePoster

    Love it......send serena, her boyfriend and her mother home

    PetePoster
    PetePoster

    Love it........send serena, her 'boyfriend' and her mother home

    SankoSubotic
    SankoSubotic

    Australia Open TROPHIES go to SERBIA!!! AJDE!!!!!!

    rafafan3
    rafafan3

    Good job beating Serena, now time to flop as usual. C'mon Genie take the trash out ;)

    saveserve325
    saveserve325

    @Bluelegs but there is no reason to "hate" Serena. Serena actually studied design and like other pro designers,she has had a few edgier pieces that pushed the envelope. Truly creative fashion is sometimes surprising,fun, or whimsical. I think her conservative pieces suit her just great though. And Serena had been an angel for decades when other players were hurling the f word at officials.Some of those  officials brazenly cheated Serena so badly that it changed tennis history because instant replay had to be introduced! Players like Jennifer Capriati got their way after cussing officials and were given Serena's hard earned points! They taught Serena to cuss. I'm  glad she's back torto her normally sunny self,though.


    tfaw
    tfaw

    @saveserve325 ok we get it, you love her.  and most people that don't are small minded racists.  

    cdns211
    cdns211

    If your pathetic life is all about celebrating some one' loss, and if that some one happens to be a 17 slam winner, you must have been miserable for a very long time indeeed.

    HelenBolden
    HelenBolden

    @saveserve325 Thanks saveserve325. You know what you are talking about and you told them. I'm sure that most of them have never watched a tennis match. 

    saveserve325
    saveserve325

    @nygiants56 Serena Williams is more than likeable. She is loveable. Several years ago a young woman tennis pro was diagnosed with cancer. A year after the diagnosis she publicly stated that Serena Williams had been sending her uplifting cards,letters,and gifts. You can also go on youtube and see Serena comforting Lisicki,an injured tennis pro and her opponent on court. And kindly point out where we can find your post criticizing Sharapova for complaining about a"shoulder injury" after Serena beat her at Brisbane mere days ago! Btw,it was not Serena who revealed her injury to reporters.It was her coach.

    saveserve325
    saveserve325

    @sunalsorises Serena Williams was classy for decades and got cheated so brazenly by"officials" it changed tennis history and instant replay had to be instituted. Meanwhile foulmouthed women like Capriati were the people racist officials gave Serena's hard earned points to.


    . They Taught HER to cuss! She just forgot for a moment that as a black woman, she'd be more villified than they. Btw,where can we find your post criticizing Sharapova for bringing up a "shoulder injury" after Serena beat her at Brisbane mere days ago?

    6marK6
    6marK6

    @jamie11230 She is in her thirties and has never ever given credit to an opponent in defeat, when do you think she will start?

    jamie11230
    jamie11230

    @cdns211 I admire Serena a great deal.  That's why it is so infuriating that she can't seem to graciously offer congratulations without throwing in some excuses about how poorly she played, thereby minimizing her opponent's achievement.

    saveserve325
    saveserve325

    @KLbgrass ??Serena Williams has won 17 majors(so far). If that's not walking the walk nothing is. Serena didn't even bring it up. Reporters asked her about her injury because they already knew. Her coach had already told them about the injury! Serena even withdrew from a tournament late last year because of it.


    Btw,where can we find your post criticizing Sharapova for complaining of a "shoulder injury" after Serena beat her at Brisbane mere days ago? 

    saveserve325
    saveserve325

    @6marK6 ?? Serena didn't even bring it up. Everyone could tell Serena's movement was hampered and reporters asked her about the injury because they already knew about it. Her coach had already told them. Btw, Serena withdrew from a tourney late last season because of the same injury.

    saveserve325
    saveserve325

    @ElvisHitler ?????! Roids seriously reduce breast tissue. Youtube Serena Does the Splits. See what pops out at you then shut up.  Serena Williams has the most womanly figure on the women's tour. There'd be a better chance of Ana being on roids. She looks more like Lance Armstrong than Serena does.

    saveserve325
    saveserve325

    @PetePoster Serena, her boyfriend, her sisters,her mother,her friends, and hopefully her father will all watch her win majors this year. Heal,rest,and practice Serena. We love you,your Mom and Dad and your sisters!

    saveserve325
    saveserve325

    @tfaw @saveserve325 If the shoe fits... How many biased gits have been running over hill and dale pretending Serena allegedly "never credits" opponents, when the glaringly obvious fact is Serena almost always credits opponents and there is video and transcript proof of that going back decades!?


    And where o where are their posts villifying Sharapova for complaining of a"shoulder injury" after Serena beat her at Brisbane mere days ago?  In case you weren't aware, that kind of weird cherrypicking Is biased.


    And it gets weirder. Many top players cited injury before Venus and Serena began winning so many majors. Noone questioned sportsmanship until Venus and Serena finally began to mention their own injuries, too!


    Face it. Some people put the kkk in Amerikkka.

    tfaw
    tfaw

    @6marK6 @jamie11230 she is passive aggressive, which is very annoying.  having said that, there seem to several high ranking members that complain about their own defeats.  

    saveserve325
    saveserve325

    @6marK6 @jamie11230 ???? There is video evidence and many transcripts going back over decades proving that Serena almost always credited her opponent. It was players like Anna Kournikova,Martina Hingis, Pete Sampras, and nearly everbody else who cited injuries after losses before Venus and Serena even got so big on the world stage!!


    Btw, please politely point us to your post criticizing Sharapova for talking about her "shoulder injury" after Serena beat her at Brisbane mere days ago!

    HelenBolden
    HelenBolden

    @6marK6 @jamie11230 It's obvious you 2 idiots don't watch tennis.  Serena has always given her opponents credit when she is defeated. She even did it yesterday. Serena has probably been suffering back pain since Brisbane. She has been hitting first serves into the net and double faulting since Brisbane. A few times I thought that I was watching Maria, Vika or Na. I would have to look twice. I would say our beautiful Queen Serena is playing like that. Serena still won Brisbane.

    HelenBolden
    HelenBolden

    @jamie11230 @cdns211 She played poorly. You don't watch her press conferences. She always give credit to her opponents when she lose. When she lose, it is because of an injury. She win with injuries. You're infuriated because she wins and she is African American. You don't admire her at all. When she lose, you haters still criticize. Just be happy that she lost and STFU.

    saveserve325
    saveserve325

    @HelenBolden @ElvisHitler Helen,you are right. The rabid racists need to use that Lenscrafters coupon in today's paper. The rest of us can see that Serena Williams has the most womanly figure on tour. There'd be a better chance of Ana being on roids. She looks a lot more like Lance Armstrong than Serena does.

    saveserve325
    saveserve325

    @Vinny Cordoba @saveserve325 @tfaw ?? Interesting. You didn't even try to refute anything I said. Because you can't. It's all true. Millions of people have been watching tennis for decades and know forthe bigotry against the Williams sisters was all too real. Serena would have won even more majors by now but for that rank evil lurking in the breasts of some of her own countrymen. Btw, I graduated with honors in the honors program at the university at which I matriculated. "Dumb" I'm not.

    saveserve325
    saveserve325

    @HelenBolden @6marK6 @jamie11230 Thank goodness for your injecting sanity here.  Don't the racist gits realize there is video evidence as well as transcripts going back decades that prove Serena  credited opponents?


    And where o where are there posts criticizing Sharapova for talking about a"shoulder injury" after Serena beat her at Brisbane mere days ago? Bigoted gits!

    nygiants56
    nygiants56

    @HelenBolden@6marK6@jamie11230  She gives credit?  Please.  She ALWYAS refernce an injury she has or reason she did not play her best, THEY says it has nothing to do with it.  Please.  Great player - let's not say she's gracious

    jamie11230
    jamie11230

    @HelenBolden @jamie11230 @cdns211 She routinely says things along the lines of 'I played so poorly today anyone could have beaten me.'  This time it was about making mistakes she hasn't made since the 80s.  It's always about how SHE deserved to lose, not that her opponent deserved to win.  If you choose to hear all discussion of her in the context of a worldview that is obsessed with ethnicity, that's unfortunate for you.


    And I'm not at all happy she lost, simply because I love watching her play.  She has a beautiful all-court game, unlike so many of her contemporaries who do little but launch rockets from the baseline.

    saveserve325
    saveserve325

    @nygiants56 @HelenBolden @ElvisHitler ???? Because true fans of tennis who have actually been Watching, know that their is video evidence as well as transcripts going back decades that prove Serena has almost always credited opponents!  We also know that it was the likes of Pete Sampras,Anna Kournikova, Martina Hingis and many many other top players who were citing injuries after losses long before Venus and Serena began winning so many majors!


    And again, where o where can we find your post criticizing Sharapova for citing a "shoulder injury" after Serena beat her (again) at Brisbane mere DAYS ago? Biased much?