It was always going to be a tough match for Sania. She was facing seventh
seed Ana Ivanovic, a player who is most comfortable on Clay.
And it showed in the straight set 1-6, 4-6 loss.
After thoroughly beaten by Sania’s two rasping cross-court forehand winners in the first game of the match, Ivanovic wisely shifted the attack to the Indian’s backhand and it paid rich dividends when Sania lost her first service game at love. In just ten minutes, the Indian was down 0-3.
She was broken again in a hard fought sixth game, and at 1-5, the first set for Ivanovic was just a formality. The Serbian fittingly ended the set at 6-1 with an ace.
In the first set, Ivanovic’s dominance was evident in the fact that her first serve win percentage was 76 compared to Sania’s 45. Even on second serve, she won 50 per cent of the points compared to Sania’s 29. That Sania made just four unforced errors in the first set, which was over in just 23 minutes, shows that she was never given too much leeway on the forehand side, and most of the time ended up playing defensively from the backhand.
The second set saw the Indian providing a stiffer competition, winning the very first game after a hard fought battle. Again in the fifth game, she overcame a 0-30 deficit to make it 3-2 on serve, and then 4-3.
For once it looked that the Indian was rediscovering her lost touch. But the rustiness that has set in due to lack of match play, was evident at critical junctures.
At 4-4, Sania made four unforced errors to lose the ninth game. Ivanovic gave her no second chance as she served out for the match.
In the end, the gap between a top-ten and a top-50 player proved too much to bridge. Sania failed to get a single breakpoint on Ivanovic serve, which turned out to be the huge difference.