Serbian sweetheart Ana Ivanovic heads for the very top
A phenomenal year for the young tennis star has already brought her a first Grand Slam final. And things can only get better.
'She employs a lot of power to her game which gives her immense pace on the ball'
She came into 2007 as another youngster who had a lot of potential. She has successfully excelled through them and beyond. So how did Ana Ivanovic rally to the French Open final and Wimbledon semi-final?
Letís take a look at her style of play. She employs a lot of power in her game which gives her immense pace on the ball. Without a doubt her fierce forehand is her biggest weapon, as she is more then capable of hitting winners with it anywhere around the court. She will consistently dance around her backhand to set up her signature shot, consisting of a massive thump from the forehand side.
Although her backhand can dazzle at times, itís an obvious target for her opponents. Ana seems to rely on her backhand to bring consistency to her game, especially when the forehand is off. Her serve is good as she starts off the point with a bang, but itís not great. Improvements to it could prove pivotal to break even more barriers. The physical work comes down to her coaches; she has never looked more fit and fresh.
But Ivanovicís game is attackable. All her opponents can clearly see that the forehand is her biggest weapon, but clear tactics are capable of breaking it down and attacking the backhand. For example, if you can stretch her forehand outside of the court, you will open up the court on her backhand side. Even if Ana does get the ball back it will be an easy put-away, as she will most likely hit a poor backhand.
Take one enemy from 2007, Venus Williams. Ivanovic was defeated in straight sets by the American in Wimbledon and the US Open. Venusís serve was overwhelming for the Serbian. The fact that Venus had more tactics, such as coming to the net, clearly showed against Ana, whose power also looked inferior. Although she wasnít at her best in Flushing Meadows, she tried to force a winner by leaping into the shot, even against Venusís serve. But the two defeats showed the clear difference and gap between Ivanovic and the likes of the Williams sisters.
Her mental strength is also impressive, the French Open final aside. Ana is at her best when match outcomes don't come down to nip and tuck. Her French Open wobble was a result of inexperience. She is young and still learning; the match will serve as valuable and vital experience at the highest level.
So where is Ana in the grand scheme of tennis? Although the Williams sisters, Justine Henin, Maria Sharapova and a few others are currently better than the Serbian, she is quickly improving. You couldnít possibly rule out a Grand Slam win in 2008, despite not being the best. Injuries in the womenís game can easily rule out top players and leave some weakened. This factor could easily let the consistent Serbian win a Slam.
Her stunning year will be a hard act to follow in 2008. But she is mentally stable and has super shots. The consistent performer will be one to watch out for, and a real threat.