Ivanovic Conquers Bali
Published November 07, 2010 12:00
BALI, Indonesia - She showed flashes of her former self with semifinals in Rome and Cincinnati earlier in the year, but it was in the fall where she really rose. Three weeks after winning her first title of the year in Linz, Ana Ivanovic secured her second, and a return to the Top 20, conquering Bali on Sunday.
In an unseeded final, Ivanovic broke a head-to-head tie with Alisa Kleybanova, defeating her fellow hard-hitter for the fourth time in seven career meetings with a straight set win, 62 76(5). After trading breaks early in the second set, the two players held serve right until the tie-break; they were even for much of that too, but a Kleybanova double fault at 3-3 gave Ivanovic the edge she needed, and the former No.1 rode that mini-break to the title, firing a big ace to finish it off.
"I'd like to congratulate Alisa for a great week, and a fun week too. She gave me a really tough match today," Ivanovic told the crowd after the match. "Thanks to all of you who show up every day and give us big support all season. We've all had a lot of fun in Bali and I really hope to see you all next year."
After reaching the pinnacle of the game in 2008, winning Roland Garros and rising to No.1, Ivanovic struggled with injury and inconsistency over the next two years, finding herself at No.65 in July 2010 - her lowest ranking in five years.
Ivanovic finished the summer strong, reaching the semifinals in Cincy and the fourth round of the US Open; but it was at the end of the year where she really began rolling, winning 13 of her last 15 matches of the season and taking her aforementioned ninth and 10th career titles in Linz and here in Bali.
Ivanovic, who turned 23 years old on Saturday, will return to the Top 20 with her showing here, her first time in that elite since October 25, 2009.
"It's great to win another title. It's a big step for me," Ivanovic said. "The second set today came down to mental strength and just believing in myself. The last few months have been really exciting. It's a great way to go into next season."
Kleybanova, 21 years old, can still leave Bali knowing she just had her career-best year, reaching her first three WTA finals (winning her first two titles in Kuala Lumpur and Seoul and now adding a runner-up finish in Bali to those).
"Ana had a terrific week," Kleybanova said. "I'm so happy to be here, even if I didn't win today. I'll never forget this tournament. It was a great week."
Kimiko Date Krumm and Daniela Hantuchova, the two tournament wildcards who fell to Ivanovic and Kleybanova in the semifinals, squared off in the third place match, with Date Krumm winning in a tight two-setter, 75 75. It was Date Krumm's third victory in the pair's three career meetings.
"It was my last match on the WTA this year so I felt very tired, but I wanted to finish on a high note and I'm so happy I was able to win today," Date Krumm said. "Even though it wasn't my best tennis, I tried my best. I beat Li Na and Daniela here, so this tournament has been a great success for me, and I will take a couple of days off before flying to Guangzhou for the Asian Games."