Ivanovic dazzles as Venus, Kuznetsova struggle
Serbian fourth seed Ana Ivanovic produced an electrifying display to reach the Australian Open third round on Thursday as fellow contenders Venus Williams and Svetlana Kuznetsova battled through.sports Updated: Jan 17, 2008 16:34 IST
Serbian fourth seed Ana Ivanovic produced an electrifying display to reach the Australian Open third round on Thursday as fellow contenders Venus Williams and Svetlana Kuznetsova battled through.
Ivanovic showed no sign of the nerves that have crippled her at crucial points in her career, downing Italy's Tathiana Garbin 6-0, 6-3 and attributing her success to an adoring Melbourne Park crowd.
"Even if I was a little bit nervous, the crowd helped me get over it so much, they were great tonight," she said.
"I just played an awesome match, I really hope I can keep at this level and play as long as possible here," she added.
The 20-year-old froze in the spotlight when she lost the French Open final to Justine Henin last year and said she panicked while trying kill off her opponent in her opening match here on Tuesday.
But the world number four, who is supported in Australia by her Melbourne-based relatives and members of the local expatriate Serb community, said she working on controlling her jitters.
"I learned something from that first match," she said. "Today I tried to focus more on my game, be a little bit less emotional, just committing more to my shots. I was really happy with the result. And I really hope I can keep this level for the next games.
In contrast to Ivanovic's near-flawless performance, eighth seed Venus Williams and second seed Kuznetsova were content to grind out wins and save their best for the latter stages of the tournament.
Williams struggled to shake off tenacious Frenchwoman Camille Pin 7-5, 6-4 in an mistake-strewn performance that included 44 unforced errors and six double faults.
The Wimbledon champion was not concerned about being below her best so early in her campaign, confident she could call on the skills that have earned her six Grand Slams when she needed them.
"Nothing worries me anymore," she said. "I feel like I know how to play, if I make a few mistakes, I'm not going to freak out. I'm fine, I feel good."
The American veteran said overcoming Pin was simply a matter of switching tactics.
"At first, I think I wanted to rush a little bit too much," she said.
"But finally, later in the second set, I finally realized, 'whoa, she wants to run, well let her run', so it became a side-to-side kind of thing.
"I finally got a little smarter in the last few games, I felt."
Williams faces India's Sania Mirza in the third round and was looking forward to matching the Hyderabad-based right-hander's aggression.
World number two Kuznetsova was less relaxed than Williams about her sluggish display against Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova.
The Russian started flat-footed and had to claw her way back from behind in both sets to win 7-5 (7/0), 6-2.
"When I was down 5-2, 5-3, I felt I'm just not doing the (right) things. I think I just tried to put more balls in play and tried to make rallies long. She's not very consistent, so I wanted to play with her," she said.
There was some consolation for the former US Open champion in her dominance late in the match and in the end she put her initial problems down to a bad day at the office.
"A Grand Slam is seven different games, some days it's very hard and you don't feel good, today was one of those days," she said.
"Definitely I'd like to play better next time."
Kuznetsova will play Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska in the third round.