A highly intriguing first-time encounter is scheduled to take place between world No. 12 Ana Ivanovic and budding American talent Madison Keys in the opening round of the Mutua Madrid Open on Sunday afternoon. The Serb is pushing for a spot back in the WTA Top 10 and an impressive start to her campaign in Madrid would only help her cause.
Serbian No. 2 Ana Ivanovic has had a sort of resurgence in 2014, as the 2008 French Open champion won a title in Auckland before reaching the quarter-final at the Australian Open, the fourth round in Miami, as well as a second title last week in Monterrey, where she defeated Jovana Jaksic in the final. She would carry that momentum forth into her Stuttgart campaign, where she would defeat Lisicki, Kuznetsova and Jankovic en route to the final. While she held a significant lead in her match-up against Sharapova, she would ultimately surrender the match in three sets to give the Russian her third title at that tournament.
Ivanovic is currently ranked seventh in the WTA Road to Singapore, but is 12th overall in the rankings. She is currently behind Sara Errani (11) and Dominika Cibulkova (10) and only 365 points from reentering the Top 10. Considering she reached the semi-final last year at this event, losing to her Stuttgart vanquisher Sharapova, Ivanovic is not likely to boost herself into the Top 10 this week, but strong performances throughout the month could certainly lead her to that position.
Boca Raton native Madison Keys worked her way to a career-high of No. 37 last season, yet has since plateaued considerably since then, losing in the first round in Acapulco, the second round at Indian Wells, the third round in Miami and lastly the second round in Charleston. Six of her losses so far this season have come to players ranked below her on the WTA tour, which is a testament to her inconsistency at such a young age. While her talent and power makes her a tough match for most on her best days, she is unlikely to trouble Ivanovic much during this encounter.
Prediction: Ana Ivanovic in Three Sets