Ivanovic Strikes Back in Luxembourg
Published September 30, 2007 12:00
LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - Like she has done so many times in the past, Ana Ivanovic summoned her best tennis when she was down and pulled it out. The Serbian teenager rallied back from a set and 3-0 down against Daniela Hantuchova to claim her third Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title of the year at the FORTIS Championships Luxembourg.
The two players seemed evenly matched through the first several games of the final but Hantuchova, the No.4 seed, reeled off seven games in a row from 2-3 to lead by a set and 3-0. She would bring up two points for a 4-2 second set lead too; things didn't look so peachy for the No.2-seeded Ivanovic at that mid-second set juncture, but forced aggression - which had gotten Ivanovic out of binds before - was brewing.
"Daniela started off really well, playing aggressive and just going for her shots," Ivanovic said of her early match struggles. "I struggled to find my rhythm; I told myself when I was 3-0 down in the second set that I needed to play much more aggressive. It was a riskier approach but it's better that way, and it worked."
Ivanovic won six of the next seven games to capture the second set, then after the two stayed on serve through 3-3 in the third she drew blood again, breaking in the seventh game for a 4-3 lead. They held their serves from there on, until Ivanovic was able to serve it out comfortably for a 36 64 64 comeback victory.
"It was a really tough match today, and I expected one!" Ivanovic said. "The third set was probably more mental than anything. I managed to hold serve which was very important, and I took my opportunities to break her. The public was really amazing today, too. They really helped me to get through the second set."
"I played very well at the beginning, but then Ana started to go for her shots and put more pressure on me," Hantuchova said. "I didn't have much time to go for mine. But Ana played really well and in the third set maybe a few points here and there decided the match. It was just a great match."
While Ivanovic made it through to the final without losing a set, Hantuchova was pushed to the limits in her quarterfinal match with Patty Schnyder, squandering three match points leading 5-3 in the second set and three more while ahead 5-4 in the third before finally closing out her long-time rival, 63 57 75.
"I have played quite a few tough matches this week and probably my energy was down today; but Ana played really well. I've enjoyed this week. I'm pleased with my game and hope to keep it this way and have another good one next week."
Ivanovic avenged losses in her last three rounds. She had lost to Tatiana Golovin in their last match (at Amelia Island in April) and beat her in the quarterfinals; she had lost her last two with Vera Zvonareva (at the Australian Open in January and at Charleston in April) before defeating her in the semis; and she had lost her only previous meeting with Hantuchova handily, 63 61, on the grass courts of 's-Hertogenbosch this past June.
Ivanovic now has three titles this year, after winning at Berlin and Los Angeles; she has five in her career, having won Canberra in 2005 and Montréal in 2006.
The icing on the cake came after her quarterfinal win, which helped her clinch the fourth berth in the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships.
"I haven't got much to complain about today!" an elated Ivanovic said Friday after dismissing Golovin. "I won the match and I've also qualified for the Sony Ericsson Championships. I am very happy. Everything worked my way today."
In the doubles final, No.3 seeds Iveta Benesova and Janette Husarova defeated unseeded combo Victoria Azarenka and Shahar Peer, 64 62, for their first title together. It is Benesova's second career Tour doubles title and Husarova's 23rd. Azarenka was a standout in the singles draw this week, notching her first career Top 10 win (over Nadia Petrova) en route to her equal-biggest career quarterfinal (she also reached the last eight at Los Angeles in August).