Ana Ivanovic edged Carla Suárez Navarro in a tight three-setter in the quarterfinals of Rome to keep alive her hopes of a return to the Top 10.
WTA Staff

ROME, Italy - Ana Ivanovic's terrific clay court season continued with a narrow defeat of Carla Suárez Navarro on Friday in the quarterfinals of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia.

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The Plot
A day after snapping her seven-match losing streak against Maria Sharapova and posting her fourth Top 10 win of the season, the 11th-seeded Ivanovic took on the 13th-seeded Suárez Navarro, who had advanced by walkover against Simona Halep in the previous round. It has already been a memorable clay court season for both players, highlighted by a runner-up showing in Stuttgart for Ivanovic and Suárez Navarro's first WTA title in Oeiras.

The Turning Point
This encounter was back and forth throughout. Down 4-2 in the first set, Ivanovic won four straight games to capture the first set. But Suárez Navarro quickly got out to a 3-0, two-break lead during a comfortable second set win. And then down 4-3 but on serve in the third set, Ivanovic won three straight games, fending off a break point in the last one for a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 victory.

By The Numbers
Little separated the two competitors, with Ivanovic winning 104 points to Suárez Navarro's 102. Ivanovic posted an impressive 48-34 winners-to-unforced errors ratio. The Serb tied Suárez Navarro and Radwanska for most wins on the WTA this season with her 30th. If she can win the title here, she will return to the Top 10 for the first time since 2009.

"It was a very hard match from the first moment and I expected it because she's a very good player on clay," Ivanovic said. "Her shots are heavy, but that helps me hit winners. I was trying to find a balance between the long rallies and trying to come in and take the ball early. I was happy to be able to hold tough in the third set and prevail."

What's Next
In her second Rome semifinal, Ivanovic will play Serena Williams, whom she is 1-4 against, but won their most recent meeting in the fourth round of this year's Australian Open.

"I think it's a different match on a different surface," Ivanovic said. "There's a big difference between clay and hard. Both of us have a clear style of game that can be affected by the surface, but it will be a tough match regardless. She has won a lot of tournaments on clay and she's good on any surface. It's always challenging to face such a good player. She has done a lot for women's tennis."