My sleeper pick may as well have slept in this morning.
Kim Clijsters blew away Ana Ivanovic in just under an hour in an easy 6-2, 6-1 victory. This was Ivanovic’s first fourth round Open match since 2007 when Venus Williams beat her 6-4, 6-2 on a Sunday afternoon on Ashe. That match looked like Agassi-Sampras 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6 match in ’01–happened nine years ago today!–compared to this one.
Despite the fact that Clijsters and Ivanovic are two wonderfully nice players and two of my favorites, this was not easy to watch. There was a point very early on when the two traded breaks, but after Ivanovic lost a second service game in the first set, it began a streak where she would lose 10 of the next 11 games.
In the second set, the tennis became ugly, ugly, ugly. Ivanovic said her confidence is back, but she clearly still has a lot of work to do before she can compete in a real way at Grand Slams again. In the first set, she won just 9 percent of her points off her second serve. In the second set, she won just 38 percent of points off her first serve. She had 5 double faults for a match that didn’t last an hour.
She admitted that she was overwhelmed by the moment.
“I was on a big stage again,” she said. “I didn’t have that feeling for a long time. Lots of emotions came back, and I just felt a little slow, and just a little bit out of it,” she said.
Clijsters said her strategy today was to apply a little bit of pressure, and then sit back and watch Ivanovic implode.
“I knew once I got out there that Ana is the type of player — she’s playing with a lot more confidence, and if I can stay with her in the beginning of those first few games where she was playing really good tennis, if I could just stay with her and kind of just, yeah, make her once in a while doubt a little bit,” said Clijsters.
As a result: “She starts making a few little unforced errors and a couple of double faults,” she continued. “I really tried to use the chances that I had, and that’s what I did really well.”
It’s a shame that a wonderful competitor like Clijsters didn’t get any challenge today. It would be so great for women’s tennis if Ivanovic should pull her game together, but clearly there’s a lot of work ahead of her.
Clijsters should be ready for a tougher match in the quarters. She’ll get the winner of Sam Stosur and Elena Dementieva, which takes place on Ashe later tonight.
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