The past few years have been tumultuous for Ana Ivanovic, but she is finally back in the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam. On Monday, she beat the gifted but unpredictable Tsvetana Pironkova with a 6-0 6-4 scoreline, breaking her opponent seven times and clocking an impressive 28 winners.
The 2008 French Open champion has had many ups and downs since her first – and so far only – Grand Slam victory, but now she seems to be making a steady climb back towards the top echelons of the game. This will come as encouraging news to her many fans, but no one will be more pleased than Ivanovic herself. A top 5 player in terms of talent and ability, she has struggled with injury, loss of confidence and poor form since rising to the top of the rankings four years ago. Her results have ranged from the disappointing to the dumbfounding: only a few weeks ago, she lost 6-0, 6-0 to Roberta Vinci.
Against Pironkova, a Wimbledon semi-finalist in 2010 who tends to do little of note on surfaces other than grass, Ivanovic produced an excellent first set, hitting 13 winners and sealing it in 23 minutes. The second set was much more of a contest, as the Serb began to rack up the unforced errors and lost serve three times to the Bulgarian. Pironkova began to battle very hard, matching Ivanovic stroke for stroke in baseline rallies. In the end, however, the Serb managed to serve out the match and book a spot in the last eight.
There, she will most likely face Serena Williams, who beat her in the fourth round at Flushing Meadows in 2011. Although Ivanovic is perhaps in the best form of her life post-2008, she will nevertheless have to step up another couple of gears if she is to have any hope of derailing the American legend. Promising though her recent form is, Ivanovic’s first serve percentage languished at a poor 48% in the Pironkova match. Serena will not let her get away with such a statistic.