After final appearances at the Australian and French Opens, ultimately breaking through and hoisting the latter trophy, Ana Ivanovic’s game hit the skids. Last week, the Serbian youngster got back on course with a semifinal showing in Zurich and this week took it one step further by reaching the finals at the tier II Generali Ladies Linz in Austria, her first since the French. Ivanovic, the top seed and world number four, thrashed Russian Vera Zvonareva, the second seed and world number nine, 6-2, 6-1.
After Zvonareva’s flawless performance in the semifinals where she crushed Marion Bartoli 6-1, 6-0, a highly competitive final was anticipated. Moreover, Ivanovic struggled in the semifinals vanquishing crafty teenager Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 3-6, 7-5. Unfortunately, the final was a one sided affair. Zvonareva opened the proceedings with three straight unforced errors and with a backhand drop shot, Ivanovic took the lead 1-0. The Serbian whose serve was problematic in the prior round, connecting on a dismal 37% of first serves in the initial set, won her first service game at love. In three games, Zvonareva made nine unforced errors from both wings and won only two points to go down two breaks. Briefly, Vera seemed to overcome her erratic play and with a forehand crosscourt winner arrived at her first break point. Zvonareva converted when Ivanovic committed a rare forehand error. However, this was the highlight for Zvonareva as the Russian’s game continued its meltdown. After leading 40-0, Vera committed two backhand errors and three double faults to give Ivanovic another break for 4-1. With a flurry of unforced errors, Zvonareva conceded the set to Ivanovic.
The second set was a carbon copy of the previous. Simply stated, Vera was unable to stop the hemorrhage in the unforced error department. With three successive errors and a double fault, Zvonareva handed Ivanovic a 1-0 lead. Zvonareva’s inability to put away the short balls, sustain rallies even during neutral points and outright poor judgment contributed to her downfall. Yet, although Ivanovic was aggressive, she committed only ten errors throughout the match. Ivanovic cruised through the second set, breaking twice to cement the victory.
Unquestionably, this win is a great confidence booster for Ivanovic who has been dealing with a niggling thumb injury the last few months. In early November, the top eight players, including these two finalists, will gather to battle it out for the Sony Ericsson Championships, the year’s last trophy. With Maria Sharapova ceding her spot due to injury, Jelena Jankovic, Dinara Safina, Elena Dementieva, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Serena and Venus Williams round out the field in Doha. With a late season charge, titles in Beijing, Stuttgart and Moscow, Jankovic has secured the year-end number one ranking.