The queen is dead — long live the queen?
Former No. 1 and current No. 14 seed Ana Ivanovic took what she felt was rightfully hers on Sunday at the Australian Open, coming from a set down to stun world No. 1 Serena Williams 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in a round of 16 match.
The Serb, who had never previously won a set off Williams, took the match to the younger Williams sister. If she wasn’t breaking down the Williams backhand through long rallies, she was ripping effortless forehand winners past the Williams’ forehand side on critical points.
Afterwards the media coaxed Williams into talking about the back injury she had been dealing with on the practice court since beating Daniela Hantuchova.
“I made a tremendous amount of errors, shots I missed I normally don’t miss,” she said. “I haven’t missed since the ’80s. I’m just not used to missing those shots. She made some good shots, and I just made way, way, a lot of unforced errors…Maybe I wasn’t the best physically, but that had nothing to do with it. I think Ana just played a really good match. She did what it takes to win.”
Ivanovic ended the 25-match winning streak of the reigning No. 1.
“I had to remind myself all the time just to stay in the moment,” said the confident Ivanovic. “Because there were moments in the match where it could have gone either way. I could have just made a few more errors. But I really just believed in my game and stepped up when I needed to…I just really enjoy competing. Like I said, I’m not afraid going deep against these top players. I feel ready, and I want to challenge everyone out there.”
In the quarterfinals Ivanovic will face Canadian upstart and No. 30 seed Eugenie Bouchard, who tamed both the Aussie crowds and unseeded homecountry favorite Casey Dellacqua 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-0.
“She beat Serena so she’s playing really well,” Bouchard said of Ivanovic. “We’re in the quarters now, so she deserves to be there. No one’s going to give it to me, so it’s going to be a good match.”
Bouchard, competing in her first Australian Open after quickly making the transition from the junior ranks, is the first Canadian into a Grand Slam quarterfinal in 21 years.
Also upset-minded was Italian veteran and No. 28 seed Flavia Pennetta, who out-grounded No. 9-seeded German Angelique Kerber 6-1, 4-6, 7-5. In the quarterfinals she will again have her hands full against No. 4 seed Li Na, who steamrolled No. 22 Ekaterina Makarova 6-2, 6-0.
“I would like to be back in the Top 20,” said Pennetta upon hearing her first Aussie Open quarterfinal will propel her back into the Top 20. “Of course my dream is to be back in the Top 10, but is gonna be tough. The season is so long. It just start. For the moment, it’s so good, so I hope to just keep going.”
Results on the men’s side Sunday were far less dramatic as the seeds fell in line to advance into the quarterfinals.
No. 2 Novak Djokovic led the charge, having his way with the upright Italian and No. 15 seed Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-0, 6-2.
“I felt from the start of this tournament that I’ve been elevating my game as the tournament is going on,” Djokovic said. “Every match is better. The general feeling on the court, all the shots, using the court position really well, being aggressive, playing my style of the game. That’s what I’ve done really well today overall from the first to the last point. I haven’t allowed my opponent to come back to the match.”
Djokovic also said his coach Boris Becker did not take offense at his on-court Becker impression.
“I’ve seen his face reactions,” Djokovic said. “The first impression, when I’ve done all the serves, he was happy and he is applauding. When I said how he is today with his problems in the back and everything, he was not so happy about that. He was upset (smiling). But, no, it’s all for good laughs. It’s actually the first time after a long time I’ve actually done Becker imitation. I don’t know how I was. Was okay? I’m going to gain few kilos and have to color my hair in order to do the proper Becker imitation (media laughter).”
In the quarters the Serb will face No. 8 seed Stan Wawrinka, who in the last night match defeated No. 17 Tommy Robredo 6-3, 7-6(3), 7-6(5). The first serve made the difference for the Swiss, with Wawrinka winning 90 percent of his first serve points compared to 70 percent for the Spaniard.
“I know that he’s playing the tennis of his life in last 15 months,” Djokovic said of Wawrinka. “He’s Top 10 player now. He’s established himself in the top level. He won against some top guys in the big tournaments. He is confident. You could feel that mentally when he comes to the court, he believes in himself more. He can win against the top guys in the later stages of events. So, you cannot expect a clear favorite in that match.”
Also advancing to a quarterfinal meeting were No. 3 David Ferrer and No. 7 Tomas Berdych. Ferrer needed to come from a set down to defeat unseeded German Florian Mayer 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-2, 6-1, while Berdych faced a mirror image of his game in No. 19 seed Kevin Anderson, but battered the South African 6-2, 6-2, 6-3.
“I have a good memories from last season, which is not that far ago,” Berdych said of facing Ferrer. “We play twice, in Bercy and in London. I beat him in London. That I play really well. The week before in Paris Bercy, I was very close. I lost to him in three sets. So, I’m going to have a plan and I hope it’s going to be the right one.”
On court Monday in Melbourne in round of 16 play are (3) Maria Sharapova vs. (20) Dominika Cibulkova, (13) Sloane Stephens vs. (2) Victoria Azarenka, (1) Rafael Nadal vs. (16) Kei Nishikori, (10) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. (6) Roger Federer, (5) Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Garbine Muguruza, (8) Jelena Jankovic vs. (11) Simona Halep, (4) Andy Murray vs. Stephane Robert, and (22) Grigor Dimitrov vs. unseeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
Serena Williams has lost in the fourth round at two of her last three Grand Slams. Williams hasn’t won the Australian Open since 2010…That was the first time Ana Ivanovic has ever won a match point against a world No. 1… Novak Djokovic has won his last 28 matches. He’s also won 25 straight in Melbourne and he hasn’t lost a set… Tomas Berdych has won all 53 service games this week. Rafael Nadal also hasn’t lost serve… Novak Djokovic has reached 19 straight Grand Slam quarterfinals. Roger Federer leads all players having reached 36 in a row… David Ferrer has won four of six against Tomas Berdych on hardcourts… Victoria Azarenka has won 17 straight matches at the Australian Open… If Roger Federer loses to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, would Stanislas Wawrinka become the new Swiss No. 1? Discuss!…. Novak Djokovic and Stanislas Wawrinka will play in the third straight hardcourt major… Tomas Berdych has beaten Kevin Anderson the last three years at the Australian Open… How many top-ranked players has Euginie Bouchard beaten this week? Um, none…. Andy Murray plays a lucky loser on Monday, how lucky is that while Federer drew Tsonga… David Ferrer has advanced to the quarterfinals at nine straight Slams… Kei Nishikori once took a set off Rafael Nadal…. Rafael Nadal has exactly 666 career wins. Ok…. No Japanese player has ever beaten Nadal… Roger Federer on player’s who look to their box the entire match or receive illegal coaching from their player’s box: “I feel like it’s like in school, you do your work. At home, you get ready for the test, and then the test, you don’t cheat and you try to do your best. I see it the same way in tennis.”…It’s Australian Open time, so it’s also time for the annual update on the troubled former world No. 4 Jelena Dokic. The Reader’s Digest version: she’s 30, she failed to win an Aussie Open wildcard, she played in the doubles, still trying to rebound from wrist surgery and mono, still not in great shape, still won’t talk about her dad who was banned from the WTA tour, is based in Melbourne, and will play low-level ITF events in the coming months… Aussie Marinko Matosevic melted down on court and in his post-match press conference after losing in five sets to Kei Nishikori. Among the histrionics were getting mad at fans for calling him “Mad Dog” (even though the nickname appears on his personal website) and getting mad at his box and coach Mark Woodforde for not being vocal enough in his support. “I wanted my coach to vocally support me, but he wouldn’t,” he said. “I’ve spoken about it before, but I don’t know. Not disappointed in the lack of support. Some players need verbal support, some don’t. I’m a player that likes it and needs it and wants it. So if my coach is just going to sit there and clap, I expect more.” — How about this, stop looking at your box every point like a WTA player and just play tennis and win the match?
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