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Ivanovic taking it one game at a time

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Originally published on: 29/08/12 00:00

Suffering a “double bagel” reverse can be a chilling experience for players. Ana Ivanovic had had experience of inflicting 6-0, 6-0 defeats on opponents, but the Serb had never been on the receiving end of such a thrashing until Italy’s Roberta Vinci needed just 45 minutes to beat her in Montreal earlier this month.

Ivanovic admitted that the memory of that humiliation was in her mind when she played her first match at the US Open this week. After beating the Ukrainian qualifier, Elina Svitolina, 6-3, 6-2 in the first round, Ivanovic admitted: “It is tough. In that first game I was like: ‘Oh, my God at least I should win a game first’.”

Until her defeat to Vinci, Ivanovic had featured in five “double bagel” results, but had always been on the winning side. She performed the feat three times in her early years playing on the International Tennis Federation Circuit, against Italy’s Elena Vianello in Barcelona in 2003, Greece’s Christina Zachariadou in Majorca in 2004 and Japan’s Saori Obata in Fukuoka in 2004. Slovakia’s Martina Sucha was her next victim, in Warsaw in 2005, and Petra Cetkovska her most recent, at Roland Garros in 2008 en route to the French Open title.

The Montreal defeat was partly down to a foot problem which was giving Ivanovic some pain. “I didn't think it was anything serious,” she said. “I didn't twist it or anything. It just started getting worse. I thought it was inflammation, so I tried to play.”

Ivanovic said that all players learned to play through pain. “It’s part of the game in sport and I always joke because people say: ‘Sport is good for you.’ But we are always hurting. It's hard on the heart, too. When you progress also in a tournament you're going to have aches and pains.”

The foot problem meant that Ivanovic arrived in New York with only one hard-court match under her belt this summer. “Unfortunately I had to take some time off with my foot,” she said.  “Last week when I was training I really tried on my movement and on my serve and tried to be more consistent. To have a match like today that I actually played quite well, it's a good start for me. Obviously I want to build on this and take it one match at a time.”

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