From the Daily Telegraph
By Chico Harlan
January 09, 2008 12:00am
BECAUSE Justine Henin's scheduled opponent yesterday strained a muscle and couldn't play, officials moved Ana Ivanovic's match to Centre Court, leaving Ivanovic with no choice whatsoever but to play in front of thousands and charm the world all over again.
Tennis fans love to love Ivanovic. Those who watched her defeat Virginie Razzano yesterday to claim a spot in the Medibank International quarter-finals witnessed an alluring combination of grace and fortitude and power, and that doesn't even include any characteristics the male 18 to 34 demographic might wish to include.
She's 20 years old now. She grew up in bombed-out Serbia and practised tennis within the walls of an empty swimming pool.
Today, as the fourth-ranked woman in the world, she earns more than $2 million annually and shops at Louis Vuitton and can rattle off her 10 favourite restaurants in the world.
You need to know both of these sides of Ivanovic because they reflect the division in her mannerisms - half toughness, half sweetness. This makes her, let it be said, a memorable breed of predator.
If she's not yet a household name it's only because she's still seeking her first major title. It's not for lack of charisma. Her face forms a natural, easy smile and even when she's backed into tough fights, you might sense desire, but never displeasure. She's pure as a ponytail.
On her personal website, she takes time once or twice a month to answer fan questions. (She wishes she could answer them all. There are just too many!)
No, she does not have a Facebook.com profile (Just not enough time!)
She loves sushi and fresh orange juice and Lost. She sometimes has trouble sleeping before matches. She has a knack for sudoku puzzles. She wishes everybody a Happy New Year and hopes you can achieve your goals. (Love, Ana!)
In an instant, though, Ivanovic can sprout fangs - the lesson from yesterday. Ivanovic trailed Razzano, a top-30 player from France, 5-2 in the third set; she'd dropped 11 of the last 15 games and what looked early on like a sweat-free drubbing - Ivanovic won the first set 6-1 - had collapsed into a near-upset.
But then something happened, perhaps on account of Razzano's nerves, perhaps more because of Ivanovic's resolve. She regained the certainty behind her shot placement and suddenly Ivanovic was fist-pumping and yelping and staging a frantic comeback.
With eyes closed, a spectator within the pro-Ana arena could determine who won a given point.
And Ivanovic kept winning. She worked it to 5-3, 5-4 then she broke Razzano's serve for a 6-5 lead. Flag-draped fans on Ivanovic's right chanted her first name. Those on the opposite side chanted "Serbia! Serbia!".
"I really appreciate the support," Ivanovic later said, "and it helped me through that third set. It was tough at 5-2, I had my back against the wall. But I felt she was also a little bit nervous."
Surely not, Ana, fiery but for- ever cool.
When Razzano's final shot died in the net, Ivanovic screamed with delight and blew kisses to the crowd. She sauntered over for an on-court interview and, though still short of breath, couldn't suppress a delighted, satisfied grin - the return of sweet Ana.
"The people here are so nice," she said. "Thanks so much for coming!"