Ivanovic Looks Back, Talks Kleybanova

Ana Ivanovic talks Alisa Kleybanova as the Russian continues treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Published November 16, 2011 12:00

Ivanovic Looks Back, Talks Kleybanova
Alisa Kleybanova, Ana Ivanovic

BALI, Indonesia - A year ago Ana Ivanovic and Alisa Kleybanova were across the net from each other, trading ferocious forehands and backhands in the finals of Bali; this year Ivanovic was doing the same but Kleybanova could not have been further away - and Ivanovic definitely felt her absence.

Kleybanova has been undergoing treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma in Italy since revealing she was suffering from it on her 22nd birthday in July.

"I've known Alisa since our junior days, when we were both very young," said Ivanovic, who just turned 24 two Sundays ago. "It was actually quite emotional when I got back to Bali this year, as I was talking to my coach and he asked me who I played in the final last year. I thought of Alisa right away."

The two had played a close two-setter the year before, Ivanovic getting one mini-break in the tie-break and riding it to a 62 76(5) championship victory.

"I'd like to congratulate Alisa for a great week, and a fun week too. She gave me a really tough match in the final today," Ivanovic said after that 2010 final. "The second set came down to mental strength and just believing in myself."

Though she didn't win the title, Kleybanova's words were just as emotional after the final: "I'm so happy to be here, even if I didn't win today," she said. "Ana had a terrific week. I'll never forget this tournament. It was a great week."

Kleybanova's start to 2011 was strong, scoring five Top 20 wins (including two Top 10 wins) and even breaking into the Top 20 herself for the first time. She stopped playing in early May and has been off the tour ever since.

Read the original message from Alisa right here...

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