Ivanovic, Venus Line Up Meeting at Australian Open

Posted on January 21, 2008

The top half of the draw played the fourth round on Sunday, and all of the Top 8 seeds in action won through to set up a pair of quarterfinal blockbusters. On Monday the bottom half played their fourth round matches and, at the end of the day, Ana Ivanovic and Venus Williams made a third duel between top seeds while Daniela Hantuchova and Agnieszka Radwanska posted clutch turnaround victories to come through in the bottom quarter of the draw.

Ivanovic was the first of the four to advance to the last eight, cruising through the first set and rallying back from a break down in the second to take down Danish teenager Caroline Wozniacki, 61 76(2). The No.4-seeded Ivanovic was barely tested in the 31-minute first set, but dropped serve in the fifth game of the second set, which eventually gave Wozniacki leads of 4-2 and 5-3. The unseeded Dane even held two set points, but Ivanovic would get back on serve and cruise in the tie-break.

"Today I obviously didn't perform the best I could, but I'm happy to have used my opportunities and I'm thrilled to be in the quarterfinals," Ivanovic said. "She had a great tournament and was really dangerous in the second set, and she has a really bright future in front of her. I'm happy I managed to keep my composure in the second set; that was an important step for me."

"I thought I was playing well today but Ana was playing well also and she won the important points," Wozniacki said. "I had two set points in the second set, and I didn't take them. I didn't get that nervous, I was just unlucky. I wasn't thinking about the score, I was just thinking about each point."

The 17-year-old Wozniacki was in her first Grand Slam second week, beating a seed -- No.21 Alona Bondarenko -- along the way, also notching impressive wins over Gisela Dulko and qualifier Sabine Lisicki (in which she fought from 64 42 down to win). She leaves Melbourne with a new wealth of experience.

"I'm very happy I made the fourth round. Of course, I wanted to win today as well. But I'm still happy, and I got a lot of good experience I can take with me for my next tournaments. I'm improving and I showed I can play with the best."

Following Ivanovic on Rod Laver Arena was No.8 seed Williams, who ended the shock run of qualifier Marta Domachowska with a competitive straight set victory, 64 64. Williams twice rallied from a break down en route to winning the first set; she also had trouble with her hard-hitting opponent in the second set, breaking for a 5-3 lead and holding match point trying to serve it out, but squandering that and losing serve, then having to break in the next game to seal the victory.

"The last couple rounds I've played players who had interesting strategies as far as going for broke and hitting every ball as hard as they could; it's a different mentality to play that kind of a match," Williams said. "So I felt good about the match. She made a lot of good shots; I just tried to keep a steady level of play."

"For me, it was an amazing experience to play Venus today," said Domachowska, who was playing in the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time. "I had chances, especially in the first set, but I didn't use them very well. When I had the chances I'd make easy mistakes. I was trying my best but she was better."

Ivanovic and Williams have met four times before and Williams has won them all in straight sets, including relatively routine victories in the last two Grand Slams of 2007 (62 64 at Wimbledon and 64 62 at the US Open). But in their first meeting Ivanovic had all sorts of chances, falling in two tie-breaks at Zurich in 2004.

"Exactly the time for revenge," Ivanovic said. "I'm a different player than I was last time I played her. I'm fitter and stronger. And these courts are slower than the ones at the US Open; that's something that definitely suits me better because she's a big server and she likes to go for the big shots."

"She's a great player, and I know she'll do her best tomorrow," Williams said. "I consider myself a big match player. I do enjoy those times. I enjoy the battle, I enjoy the challenge. I'll be supporting Serena and going for my own win."

Hantuchova, Radwanska notch come-from-behind fourth round wins

The two most unlikely quarterfinalists at the 2008 Australian Open were also very much down and out in matches they eventually won to get there. Hantuchova, the No.9 seed here, rallied back from a 61 31 hole to make it past No.27 seed Maria Kirilenko, 16 64 64. The Slovak turned it all around with 17 straight points from 61 31 30-0 down in the second set, and although she had problems closing (she had two match points at 5-2 in the third and another at 5-3) she served the match out comfortably at 5-4 and moved into her fourth career Grand Slam quarterfinal.

"It's definitely an exciting time," said Hantuchova, whose most recent Grand Slam quarterfinal came right here in 2003. "I was very proud of how I fought today, because it was not easy. I wasn't playing well -- especially in the first set -- but I just kept fighting and eventually turned it around. I always believed I could make the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam again, I just thought it was a matter of time."

No.29 seed Radwanska dug herself an even deeper hole against Nadia Petrova, falling behind 61 30, but cut down on her errors and watched on as the No.14 seed's miscues started piling up. She won 13 of the next 15 games to complete a 16 75 60 victory, a solid follow-up to her third round upset over the No.2 seed, Svetlana Kuznetsova.

"I had nothing to lose in my last two matches," said Radwanska, who will play her first Grand Slam quarterfinal. "I had a slow start but then I started to not play so aggressive -- I'd just move the ball around and try not to make any mistakes. I think that was important. I also started serving much better than the first set."

Hantuchova and Radwanska have met once before, with Radwanska winning handily, 63 63, at Zurich last fall.

"She's a very tough player and very talented," Hantuchova commented. "She is proving it here once again. I played her in Zurich and lost, so obviously I'll have to change something and make sure I play my best tennis. I think we both have a good opportunity to get to the semifinals. It's going to be a very good match and I'm really looking forward to it."
-- Courtesy Sony Ericsson WTA Tour