Ana Ivanovic may not have conquered Eastbourne this year, but the former Wimbledon semifinalist will head to SW19 now, continuing to try to embrace the difficult transition from clay to grass.
WTA Staff

EASTBOURNE, England - Ana Ivanovic may not have conquered Eastbourne this year, but the former Wimbledon semifinalist will head to SW19 now, continuing to embrace the transition from clay to grass.

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The No.7-seeded Ivanovic was the first seeded casualty of the week at the Aegon International, falling to Elena Vesnina in the first round, 26 64 63, but there were some encouraging signs for the former World No.1 - she played a fantastic first set, hit 11 aces in the match, and was leading in the third.

"I really felt I played well in the beginning - it was just a few points here and there that really decided the match," Ivanovic commented. "I think in the second and third sets she served a lot better than in the first, and that made a big difference on the grass. And it's always tough when you play your first match on grass, sometimes everything's happening too fast. But I still felt like I had many chances.

"Overall I was pleased with my serving today, and in the first set I did quite a few good things."

Ivanovic had won both previous meetings with Vesnina in straight sets - those matches were on clay and hard though, and the transition from slowest surface to fastest surface may have been a factor.

"It's very hard to get a rhythm on grass. You don't get many long points. I definitely prefer to have rhythm and to build points. That's why I enjoy clay so much. Everything happens slower. But it's fun to play on grass because you have to be quick and react. Also, I have the style of game that I can go for my big shots. So it's a balance. It's just a matter of playing matches on it and getting used to it."

What does Ivanovic remember about her first time playing on grass courts? "It was Roehampton in juniors, I think," she recalled. "I remember the first time I walked on the grass, I tried to bounce the ball and it just wouldn't come back. I thought to myself, 'Okay, the ball just doesn't bounce here.'"

But despite her struggles with the surface, Ivanovic's power game has paid off at the big one - she is a former semifinalist at Wimbledon, going that far in 2007 before falling to Venus Williams. She has also been to the second week at the grass court Grand Slam three other times, in 2006, 2009 and 2012.

"I want to build towards Wimbledon now, and hopefully have another few good days of practice before going there," she said. "There are still some drills and movements to do, because it's obviously very different. The last few days it has been quite full on the courts here so we didn't get much of that.

"Hopefully we can do that in London and play some points, too. That's what it comes down to."

Vesnina was playing her first match since winning her first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros, taking the women's doubles title alongside Ekaterina Makarova. They were the second Russian duo to win a Grand Slam doubles title, after Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva won in Australia last year.