LINZ, Austria - Ana Ivanovic kept her winning streak at the Generali Ladies Linz alive on Thursday evening, although it came at the expense of someone special - her good friend and fellow former Top 10 player Andrea Petkovic.
It wasn't easy by any means - both sets looked pretty even midway through, locked at 3-all - but the No.2-seeded Ivanovic pulled away each time, closing fast in both sets for a 64 63 win over Petkovic, a wildcard into this week's draw.
"It's always tough to play a friend," Ivanovic said of Petkovic. "She's a really great girl and I'm happy to see her back on the tour. I know she'll get back to the top - she's such a hard worker and really deserves to be up there."
Ivanovic is on an 11-match winning streak at the Generali Ladies Linz, going 4-0 to capture the title in 2008, 5-0 to take the title again in 2010, and 2-0 so far this year. The Serb is 16-2 overall at the International-level tournament.
"It always feels good to come back to the place you've had success before," Ivanovic said. "It's a mix of things. I really enjoy this surface and the atmosphere is relaxed - and at this time of the year the tennis season is coming to an end, so you have more fun on the court, and maybe you don't practice as much!"
And has Ivanovic enjoyed any of the city this week? "Yes - my family is here, which is nice. We've had a couple of dinners in the city, and since I played late the last few days we've also walked around during the daytime, stopping for coffee or lunch. We all really like it here - the city is very charming."
As for Petkovic, who started the year in the Top 10 but is now down at No.192 after missing most of the season with back and ankle injuries, the comeback trail continues - and that trail continues right away, and far away too.
"I'm playing in Luxembourg next week, and then I will go to the new tournament in New Delhi, which I'm really excited about because I've never been to India before," Petkovic said. "I'm looking forward to collecting some more matches this year and seeing if I can keep improving my game and my results.
"It's been a rough comeback, but I'm just happy I'm back on the court and enjoying almost every minute - I'm losing more than I should, but that's normal, and I'm just trying to find my match rhythm again. Every match is still special."
No.1 seed Victoria Azarenka had no trouble whatsoever, dropping just two games - even holding game point in one of them - to defeat Simona Halep, 61 61. It was her WTA-leading 64th match win of a breakthrough season.
"I felt I played much better than yesterday, and it's important for me to progress from one day to another," Azarenka said. "I'm not really thinking about statistics or how many matches I'm winning right now, I'm just trying to keep going."