BEIJING, China - Ana Ivanovic kept her late bid for a place at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global on track with a straight set quarterfinal victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at the China Open.
At the start of the week, Ivanovic knew that anything other than reaching the final would leave her out of the running for Singapore. A 6-3, 7-5 win over Pavlyuchnkova kept that dream alive and set up a semifinal showdown with fellow Finals hopeful Timea Bacsinszky.
In a match of fine margins and high-quality tennis - both players combined to hit nearly 60 winners - it was Ivanovic that kept her cool at the pivotal moments, reeling off five of the final six games, closing out victory when Pavlyuchenkova ballooned a forehand beyond the baseline.
The decisive game in the first set came with Pavlyuchenkova serving at 3-2 down. Ivanovic produced one instinctive punched backhand pass and an even better inside-out forehand to earn a break point, which she took when the Russian snatched at a presentable volley.
Pavlyuchenkova looked to be on course to level the match up when she surged 4-2 ahead in the second. But she was unable to ram home this advantage, a couple of avoidable errors giving the Serb a push start for her match-winning surge.
While many of her peers are struggling for fitness as the season enters the home stretch, Ivanovic admits that she is feeling better than ever.
"I actually do feel like I've been the fittest I've been this whole year actually. So to put it together this week, it really means a lot to me," she said.
"Of course to be again in a semifinal is great. It's been a little bit of struggle, but now I feel I have my game back. I just enjoy competing again because I feel I can put out everything physically, as well."