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View Full Version : Australian Open 2008: Andrew's TV-reports / UK TV-alert (repeat of Transworld Sport)


andrewbroad
Feb 1st, 2008, 11:32 PM
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AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Grand Slam)
=============== http://www.australianopen.com/
Contents
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1. Photos
2. First-round result
3. Second round: Ivanović v Garbin TV-report
4. Fourth round: Ivanović v Wozniacki articles
5. Quarter-final: Ivanović v Williams articles
6. Semi-final: Ivanović v Hantuchová review
7. Final: Ivanović v Sharapova TV-report
8. UK TV-alert: Transworld Sport

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1. Photos
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Ana Ivanović:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/players/998/photos
http://news.search.yahoo.com/search/news/?c=news_photos&p=ivanovic
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/players/wta311710.html
search Getty Images for "ivanovic"

Various players including Ana:
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/photogallery/
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7193180.stm (Day 4)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7197440.stm (Day 6)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7199468.stm (Day 8)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7203952.stm (quarter-finals)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7206414.stm (semi-finals)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7210369.stm (final)

Many players:
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/gallery?pg=1&cap=1

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2. First-round result (Tuesday 15th January)
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Nice winner, nice loser:
+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. Sorana Cîrstea, 7-5 6-3

Sorana Cîrstea served for the first set at *5-4 but failed; Ana Ivanović let a 5-0* second-set lead become *5-3. Ana said: "She's a new, up-and-coming player. I think she has a bright future in front of her."

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3. Second round: Ivanović v Garbin TV-report (Thursday 17th January)
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+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. Tathiana Garbin, 6-0 6-3

Ana played brilliantly until 6-0 4-0* and looked in complete control, then got nervous and tentative as Garbin hung in for a few minutes to delay the inevitable. It's amazing how often the top women have struggled to get over the finishing-line this Australian Open.

Ana said: "I'm very happy with the win. I was a little nervous to start with, but I just tried to focus, keep moving my feet and committing to my shots. I'm pleased with how I handled my first [ever] night-session, and also with my performance overall."

Ana looks talented enough to win a Grand Slam, and is on much better form than Venus Williams right now, although that will count for nothing when they meet in the quarter-finals.


Garbin's prematch interview: "It was a wonderful year last year, and I hope to do my best. I love the game."

Ana's prematch interview: "It's amazing. I feel I've been on the Tour for so long, yet this is my first one [night-match]. It's a tough match for me today, so I just have to focus on my game and not thinking so emotionally about this, and I hope I can play better than I did the first match."

A "glorious" sunny evening: 22°C.

Ana jogged sexily at the net during the spin.

I expect a fairly straightforward win, although Ana was pretty nervous in her first-round match.

Sam Smith: "For a tall woman, she [Ana] moves very well. The better her footwork gets around the ball, the more options she has. Justine Henin can make her look as though she's not a great mover. /Mentally/ she's committed to working out now - to be at the top of the game, she has to be in unbelievable shape."

The match started at 19:44 AEST on Rod Laver Arena.


First set
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IVANOV *@*@*@ 6
GARBIN ______ 0

Ana serving 0-0: Ana caught the outside edge of the baseline with an error-forcing forehand. 15/0. Ana came to the net, forcing Garbin to hit a defensive backhand lob just long. 30/0. Ana on the third stroke dumped a backhand halfway up the net. 30/15. Ana tried to spread Garbin, but put a crosscourt forehand just long - but she got Hawkeye to overrule it as good. No replay because it was a winner - Garbin argued about that. 40/15. Service-winner.

Garbin serving 0-1: Ana on the fourth stroke pounced on a short ball to hit a backhand winner down the line. 0/15. Garbin sprayed a forehand wide. 0/30. Ana punished a weak second serve with a hard, error-forcing crosscourt forehand. 0/40 (3 BPs). First serve deep: Ana hit an early backhand return wide. 15/40. Garbin netted a tame forehand.

Ana has started to grunt, and it's a lovely sound - unlike Garbin's annoying groan.

Ana serving 2-0: Ana hit a forehand just wide, and wasted a Hawkeye-challenge. 0/15. Garbin netcord-winner. 0/30. Ana forced a short ball and hit a lovely forehand winner from an awkward low position. 15/30. Garbin forced a short ball and dispatched it with an easy crosscourt forehand winner. Sam Smith: "She [Garbin] tends to roll the ball around as if she's on an ultraslow clay court." 15/40. Ana forced a floater, let it bounce and hit an off-forehand winner - lovely footwork. 30/40. Ana worked her way to the net and hit a backhand punch-volley winner down the line. 40/40. Big serve down the middle + forehand winner down the line. Sam Smith praised Ana's "tidy" footwork. Ad Ana. Serve out wide + crosscourt forehand winner.

Brilliant recovery from 15/40!
Chris Bailey: "I put that in the 'mature' category'"
Sam Smith: "She used to hit the cover off the ball no matter what the score, but now she's become stingy."

Garbin serving 0-3: Ana's deep forehand return forced Garbin to hit an early forehand wide - both these girls have been caught too far forward by deep balls now. 0/15. Ana netted a backhand. 15/15. Ana crosscourt forehand pass-winner. Chris Bailey: "A nice little fake - leant one way and moved the other." 15/30. Garbin forehand just long - struggling with the pace. 15/40. Ana blasted a crosscourt backhand return-winner.

Ana serving 4-0: Ana came to the net, forcing Garbin to hit a forehand lob long. 15/0. Garbin forehand return just long. 30/0. Garbin netted a forehand. 40/0. Service-winner (Garbin wasted a Hawkeye-challenge - and why not, when she's about to lose the set?).

Brilliant performance by Ana so far. I'm even asking myself why I shouldn't induct her into my Eternal Fanship. But I've known of her brilliance since late 2004, and just not had the passion to follow her with that level of commitment. But it is growing, and I'd put her as the leading candidate for my Eternal Fanship right now, even though Tatiana Golovin, Maria Kirilenko and Sania Mirza are ahead of her on Passion.

Garbin serving 0-5: Ana came to the net, but got caught in no-man's land by Garbin's off-backhand pass-winner. 15/0. Ana forehand just long. 30/0. Ace out wide. 40/0. Double fault (second serve just long). 40/15. Garbin dawdled to the net, and Ana hit a pinpoint forehand pass-winner down the line. 40/30. Garbin forehand clipped the netcord and fell out. 40/40. Ana came to the net, and hit a backhand volley-winner (Garbin not up). Ad Ana (SP #1). Garbin backhand lob just long. Ana won the first set 6-0 at 20:08.

Even from 40/0 down!


Second set
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IVANOV *@*@*___* 6
GARBIN _____*@*_ 3

Ana serving 0-0: A lovely exchange of volleys went Ana's way when Garbin netted a backhand volley. 15/0. Ana backhand winner down the line. 30/0. Ana played a beautiful point, gliding in to hit a forehand volley-winner crosscourt. 40/0. Ana netted a forehand. 40/15. Ana's pace and depth forced Garbin to hit a backhand long.

Garbin serving 0-1: Ana forehand just long. 15/0. Ana's forehand on the baseline forced Garbin to net a backhand. Sam Smith: "Power and accuracy - that's what Ivanović is all about." 15/15. Garbin hit a cheap forehand long, and muttered in Italian. 15/30. Ana sprayed a forehand wide - Garbin's 12th point of the match. 30/30. Garbin came to the net, but Ana passed her clean as a whistle with a crosscourt forehand pass-winner. 30/40. Ana netted a backhand. 40/40. Ana picked off a forehand return-winner down the line. Ad Ana. With a loud groan, Garbin dumped a backhand thirdway up the net.

Sam Smith: "I don't know if she's waiting for Ivanović to make a load of errors, but it's a do-nothing approach from Garbin."
I agree - Garbin has been as inept as Ana has been brilliant. I can't believe she's ranked as high as #40 and been as high as #22 - much less that she once beat Monica Seles!

Ana serving 2-0: Garbin mishit a forehand wide. 15/0. Ana netted a forehand off a short ball. 15/15. Ana backhand winner down the line. 30/15. Ana netted a forehand. 30/30. Ana's depth forced Garbin to spray a forehand long. 40/30. Ana forehand just long. 40/40. Ace out wide: just inside the sideline (Garbin wasted a challenge, even though it was way in, and gave an embarrassed smile). Ad Ana. Service-winner.

Chris Bailey: "Ana's understanding better which shots to go for, and when to lay off."

Garbin serving 0-3: Garbin went for her shots for once, came to the net, ran back for a lob, and tried to hit a shot between her legs! 0/15. Ana's deep forehand shot through on Garbin for a virtual winner. 0/30. Garbin netted a backhand. 0/40. Garbin came to the net, and Ana hit an easy forehand pass-winner down the line.

Ana serving 4-0: With a loud grunt, Garbin hit a forehand pass-winner down the line, and got a huge cheer from the crowd. 0/15. Ana netted a forehand. 0/30. Ana sprayed a wild forehand long. 0/40 (3 BPs). Garbin forehand long. 15/40. Ana netted a forehand off a deep ball from Garbin, who got another big cheer from the crowd.

Aww - no double bagel! It's what they both deserve.

Garbin serving 1-4: Ana netted a forehand. 15/0. Ana had Garbin on a piece of string, but she retrieved well and Ana hit a forehand long. 30/0. Ana ran down a short ball and netted a forehand. 40/0. Ana came to the net behind a sliced backhand, and hit a forehand volley-winner. 40/15. Ana netted a forehand return.

Quite a different complexion to this match all of a sudden. I still can't believe Ana's not going to win this set 6-3 at the worst.

Ana serving 4-2: Ana forehand dropshot-winner. 15/0. Ana ran around her backhand and hit a forehand winner down Garbin's forehand-line - nobody does it better. 30/0. Garbin's lob forced Ana to retreat from the net, but she came back in and hit a forehand volley-winner. 40/0. Double fault (second serve hit the netcord). 40/15. Service-winner out wide.

Sam Smith: "She's ready to win a Slam."
Ana certainly has the talent for that, but I would still question her nerves, and her ability to handle Henin, the Williams-sisters, and Maria Sharapova now that she's back to form.

Sam Smith: "She just has to close it out now - that's another skill in itself."

Yes - it's amazing how difficult it's been for the top women to get themselves over the finishing-line this Australian Open.

Garbin serving 2-5: Ana forehand long. 15/0. Ana netted a backhand. 30/0. Garbin netted a forehand. 30/15. Ana hit a crosscourt forehand onto the baseline, forcing Garbin to hit a forehand wide of the tramlines. 30/30. Ana came to the net and hit a forehand volley-winner. 40/30 (MP #1). Garbin came to the net on a very short return, and hit a forehand volley-winner on the fifth stroke. 40/40. Ana hit a pinpoint forehand down the line, right in the corner, forcing Garbin into error. Ad Ana (MP #2). Garbin spread Ana, forcing her to hit a forehand long. Deuce #2. Ana netted a forehand return. Ad Garbin. Ana forehand long by a whisker - perhaps she should have challenged.

Two match-points go begging.

Ana serving 5-3: A long baseline-rally ended with Garbin hitting a backhand wide. Sam Smith: "There are a lot of players who have got themselves into a real mess against Garbin." 15/0. Service-winner out wide. 30/0. Ana's forehand dropshot forced Garbin to hit a backhand long. 40/0 (MP #3). Ana dumped a forehand quarterway up the net. 40/15 (MP #4). Garbin's short, acute crosscourt forehand winner forced Ana to hit a forehand wide. 40/30 (MP #5). Ana hit a backhand just long - amazing what can happen! 40/40. Garbin sprayed a backhand wide - not very forced. Ad Ana (MP #6). Service-winner down the middle. Ana won 6-0 6-3 at 20:50.

A really tentative finish for Ana, but that's the beauty of the tennis scoring-system: you can't just build up a huge lead and then wait for your opponent to run out of time; you have to perform till the fat lady sings.


Ana's on-court interview
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It was an amusing interview, firstly because Ana is taller than Todd Woodbridge!

"The crowd were a lucky charm. Even if I was a bit nervous, they helped me so much tonight. I love coming out here and playing. Tonight I played an awesome match, and I really hope I can keep this level and play as long as possible here."

[Re. Aussie barbeques] "I'm saving it till after the tournament. If I had too much to eat, I wouldn't be able to move!"

[Re. unusual autograph-requests] "In front of so many people, I'm a little bit embarrassed. <laughing> I know [I told a newspaper], but here they're looking at me! One guy asked me to sign his boxer-shorts, so it's embarrassing!"

[And did you?] Ana gave a bashful smile and the interview was over!


Articles
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Ivanović [Teletext 495->497]
>>>
Ivanović races to win [Teletext 497]

Ana Ivanović put her first-round wobbles behind her as she thrashed Tathiana Garbin in Melbourne.

Fourth seed Ivanović looked less than impressive in beating Sorana Cîrstea, but won the first 10 games against Italian Garbin before taking her sixth match-point in a 6-0 6-3 triumph.
<<<

'Awesome' Ana Ivanović powers into Aussie Open third round (AFP)
>>>
Fourth seed Ana Ivanović swept into the Australian Open third round with a crushing win over Italy's Tathiana Garbin Thursday, establishing herself as the new darling of Melbourne Park on the way.

The Serbian beauty steamrollered Garbin 6-0 6-3 in her first night-match at a Grand Slam, describing her performance as "awesome".

The 20-year-old, who suffered a meltdown in her only Grand Slam final at the French Open last year, and spoke earlier in this tournament about panicking on-court, revelled in the spotlight.

She produced a near-flawless display against the hapless Garbin, crediting the crowd with helping subdue the butterflies in her stomach.

"Even if I was a little bit nervous, the crowd helped me get over it so much - they were great tonight," the beaming Serb said.

"I just played an awesome match; I really hope I can keep at this level and play as long as possible here," she added.

Ivanović broke Garbin's serve on her first attempt, then defended two break-points to shoot to a 3-0 lead, cheered on by her Australian-based relatives and the local expatriate Serb community.

Another break followed, and a frustrated Garbin double-faulted as she desperately tried to hold off the world number three, who gave the Italian no way into the game, and took the opening set 6-0 in 24 minutes.

Ivanović continued to shut out Garbin in the second set, mixing up her game with forays to the net, crosscourt winners and delicate dropshots as the one-sided match began to resemble a practice-session.

Garbin had no answers to the Serbian's power, shanking the ball skyward on several occasions as she tried to return Ivanović-rockets.

The 30-year-old Italian received wild applause when she stole a point off an Ivanović serve, giving a wry smile as she gestured to the crowd for more.

Garbin did finally manage a service-break after 44 minutes to get on the board and avoid being on the wrong end of a dreaded 6-0 6-0 "double bagel", holding serve in the next to claim her second game.

The Italian then saved two match-points in the next game to add some respectability to the second-set scoreline, but Ivanović went on to serve out the match after a minor wobble when she threw away another three match-points.

The crowd, missing an adopted favourite in the absence this year of Kim Clijsters - once dubbed "Aussie Kim" by locals - warmed to Ivanović, who admitted she coveted the same cult-status the Belgian enjoyed Down Under.

"I wouldn't complain; I just love coming out here and playing," said the Serb, who has previously said she may settle down in Australia when she retires.

Before then, she must meet Slovenian Katarina Srebotnik in the third round as her campaign to win her maiden Grand Slam continues at Melbourne Park.

Ivanović said she would refrain from participating in a traditional Australian barbeque with her locally-based relatives.

"Not yet; I'm saving myself for after the tournament; if I eat too much, I wouldn't be able to move," she said.
<<<

Ivanović dazzles as Venus, Kuznetsova struggle at Aussie Open (AFP)
>>>
Serbian fourth seed Ana Ivanović produced an electrifying display to reach the Australian Open third round on Thursday.

Ivanović showed no sign of the nerves that have crippled her at crucial points in her career, downing Italy's Tathiana Garbin 6-0 6-3, and attributing her success to an adoring Melbourne Park crowd.

"Even if I was a little bit nervous, the crowd helped me get over it so much - they were great tonight," she said.

"I just played an awesome match; I really hope I can keep at this level and play as long as possible here," she added.

The 20-year-old froze in the spotlight when she lost the French Open final to Justine Henin last year, and said she panicked while trying kill off her opponent in her opening match here on Tuesday.

But the world number four, who is supported in Australia by her Melbourne-based relatives and members of the local expatriate Serb community, said she was working on controlling her jitters.

"I learned something from that first match," she said. "Today I tried to focus more on my game, be a little bit less emotional, just committing more to my shots. I was really happy with the result. And I really hope I can keep this level for the next games.

In contrast to Ivanović's near-flawless performance, eighth seed Venus Williams and second seed Kuznetsova were content to grind out wins and save their best for the latter stages of the tournament. <snip>
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Ivanović shows she is more than just a pretty face (Reuters)
By Simon Cambers (editing by Ed Osmond)
>>>
Ana Ivanović has the looks of a model, studies finance in her spare time, and likes to read about history and Greek mythology.

But though the Serb may be the pin-up of the women's tour, she showed again that she can wield a racket with the best by romping into the Australian Open third round on Thursday.

In her first outing under the lights on a centre court at a Grand-Slam event, the fourth-seeded Serb crushed world number 40 Tathiana Garbin 6-0 6-3.

The 20-year-old Ivanović, who recently described herself as a party-pooper, gave the crowd on Rod Laver Arena a show that lasted just 66 minutes.

But with her crunching forehands, athletic movement and a variety that is rare on the women's tour, Ivanović ensured she would have more nights on the big stage at this year's event.

"It's definitely been great out here," Ivanović said in a courtside interview. "Even if I was a little nervous, the crowd helped me got over it tonight."

Ivanović is writing a daily column in a Melbourne newspaper throughout the tournament, and the popular Serb said she would be more than happy if they adopted her as "Aussie Ana".

"I don't complain; I love coming out here and playing. Tonight I played an awesome match; I really hope I can keep this level and play like this in the rest of the tournament."

Ivanović revealed in her column that she has had some unusual requests for autographs.

"One guy asked me to sign his boxer-shorts - that was a bit embarrassing," she told the crowd.

Ivanović will play Slovenian 28th seed Katarina Srebotnik in the third round.
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Women's round-up: Venus toils (Eurosport/AFP)
>>>
The last women's match of the day saw fourth seed Ana Ivanović beat Tathiana Garbin 6-0 6-3.

The match looked nothing more than a formality for Ivanović, the world number three from Serbia, as she crushed her opponent 6-0, but two successive games for the Italian, one of which included the shot of the match - a sweet forehand return that bamboozled Ivanović - brought her back into contention.

Ivanović somehow managed to squander five match-points at 5-3 up in the second set, but won through in just under an hour. She will face Katarina Srebotnik in the next round.
<<<

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4. Fourth round: Ivanović v Wozniacki articles (Monday 21st January)
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Nice winner, nice loser:
+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. Caroline Wozniacki, 6-1 7-6 (7/2)


Fitter, stronger Ivanović into last eight (Reuters)
By Greg Stutchbury (editing by Ed Osmond)
>>>
An improved strength- and conditioning-programme has driven Ana Ivanović's tennis-game to new heights, the Serbian world number three said on Monday.

Ivanović, who has been working with a fitness-coach for 18 months, reached the Australian Open quarter-finals after using her new-found stamina to beat a stubborn Caroline Wozniacki 6-1 7-6 in the fourth round.

"My fitness definitely needed improvement," Ivanović told reporters. "I wasn't a great mover and I had problems with injuries.

"So when I started working with him, I got really fit. I lost some weight, and got really stronger, especially in my upper body.

"Now I feel much stronger out there, and I feel I can keep up with these girls for a longer period of time.

"Before, I had to go for my shots earlier in the rally because I couldn't keep in the rally."

Ivanović, who has not dropped a set in her march to a quarter-final showdown with eighth seed Venus Williams, dominated the first set by smashing 15 winners to Wozniacki's none, and winning 76% of her first-service points.

After the pair held for two service-games each in the second set, the 17-year-old from Copenhagen finally broke in the fifth game, and held two set-points in the 10th, but Ivanović broke to level at 5-5.

The Serb held serve and had a match-point on Wozniacki's, but the young Dane managed to force a tiebreak.

However, Ivanović's experience told, and she ran out a 7/2 tiebreak-winner when Wozniacki's service-return failed to clear the net.

"She had nothing to lose, so she was really dangerous in the second set," Ivanović said.

"I started fighting a little bit more; I'm really happy I managed to keep my composure in the end of that second set and be calm on those set-points, and still manage to win it."
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Federer back on track as Venus gathers steam at Australian Open tennis
by Martin Parry (AFP)
>>>
Venus Williams next plays fourth seed Ana Ivanović, who lost concentration against unheralded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, admitting she was sleepwalking for periods of her match against the 17-year-old Dane.

The Serb finally roused herself to score a 6-1 7-6 (7/2) win.

"I played very well in the beginning, and started to get a little bit tired in the second and a little bit sleepy," she said.

"This is the first time I've played the first [morning] match, and I was sleeping in through the whole week really long in the morning; today I had to wake up really early."

But she said she was ready to take revenge against Williams, who beat her at the last two Grand Slams: US Open and Wimbledon.

"It's exactly the time for some revenge," she said. "I think I'm a little bit of a different player than I was last time I played her."
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Ivanović, Williams move into quarters (PA SportsTicker)
>>>
Ana Ivanović continued down the path to her first Grand Slam title. However, an imposing roadblock is waiting for her.

The fourth-seeded Serb advanced to the quarter-finals of the $20.6 million Australian Open on Monday with a 6-1 7-6 (7/2) victory over Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki.

Ivanović, who fell to world No. 1 Justine Henin in the final of last year's French Open, next will meet reigning Wimbledon-champion and eighth-seeded American Venus Williams, who rolled to a 6-4 6-4 triumph over unseeded Marta Domachowska of Poland.

Ivanović has had no previous success against Williams, losing all four of their career-meetings and failing to capture a set.

The 64th-ranked Wozniacki, who was unseeded and a decided underdog, did not put up much of a fight in the first set, but battled hard in the second before being put away by Ivanović.

"[Wozniacki] had nothing to lose, so she was really dangerous in the second set," said Ivanović, who has yet to drop a set. "She started going for her shots. I started fighting a little bit more. So she used the opportunity well.

"I'm really happy I managed to keep my composure in the end of that second set and be calm on those set-points, and still manage to win it."

The 20-year-old won 78% (32 of 41) of her first serves, and converted all but one of her 16 net-approaches en route to the win.
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Ivanović battles into Aussie Open tennis quarters (AFP)
>>>
Fourth seed Ana Ivanović reached the Australian Open quarter-finals for the first time on Monday, but only after receiving a wake-up call from unheralded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.

The Serbian world number three admitted she was sleepwalking for periods of her match against the 17-year-old Dane, but roused herself to score a 6-1 7-6 (7/2) win.

The victory sets up a quarter-final with six-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams or Polish qualifier Marta Domachowska.

Ivanović appeared to be strolling to an easy win after dominating the early stages, but found herself in a dogfight late on to avoid dropping her first set of the tournament.

She said she was thrown off balance by her first morning-match at this year's season-opening Grand Slam after enjoying long lies-in before her previous appearances.

"I played very well in the beginning, and started to get a little bit tired in the second and a little bit sleepy," she said.

"This is the first time I've played the first [morning] match, and I was sleeping in through the whole week really long in the morning; today I had to wake up really early."

Ivanović broke Wozniacki's serve in the opening game, and hardly raised a sweat taking the first set.

Finding her opponent was comfortable rallying from the baseline, Ivanović mixed up her game, serving powerfully, approaching the net and landing dropshots as she ran Wozniacki around.

When the opening set finished 31 minutes later, Ivanović had sent down 15 winners and Wozniacki had produced none.

Ivanović faced more of a challenge in the second set, when Wozniacki broke her in the fifth game.

The teenager suffered a thigh-strain and needed courtside treatment immediately after taking the advantage, but showed no ill effects as she stepped up the aggression to go up 4-2.

She had three chances to break Ivanović again in the seventh game, but the Serb was able to hold her off with powerful serving and a bit of luck when a forehand return flicked off the net and left Wozniacki wrong-footed.

The Dane then had three set-points at 6-5, but Ivanović held on to force a tiebreak, running away with the decider 7/2 to end the match after one hour, 35 minutes.
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Ivanović, Williams To Clash; Quarter-final Line-Up Set
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/3/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=1992
>>>
The top half of the draw played the fourth round on Sunday, and all of the Top 8 seeds in action won through to set up a pair of quarter-final blockbusters. On Monday the bottom half played their fourth-round matches and, at the end of the day, Ana Ivanović and Venus Williams made a third duel between top seeds while Daniela Hantuchová and Agnieszka Radwańska posted clutch turnaround-victories to come through in the bottom quarter of the draw.

Ivanović was the first of the four to advance to the last eight, cruising through the first set, and rallying back from a break down in the second to take down Danish teenager Caroline Wozniacki 6-1 7-6(2). The No.4-seeded Ivanović was barely tested in the 31-minute first set, but dropped serve in the fifth game of the second set, which eventually gave Wozniacki leads of 4-2 and 5-3. The unseeded Dane even held two set-points, but Ivanović would get back on serve and cruise in the tiebreak.

"Today I obviously didn't perform the best I could, but I'm happy to have used my opportunities, and I'm thrilled to be in the quarter-finals," Ivanović said. "She had a great tournament, and was really dangerous in the second set, and she has a really bright future in front of her. I'm happy I managed to keep my composure in the second set; that was an important step for me."

"I thought I was playing well today, but Ana was playing well also, and she won the important points," Wozniacki said. "I had two set-points in the second set, and I didn't take them. I didn't get that nervous - I was just unlucky. I wasn't thinking about the score; I was just thinking about each point."

The 17-year-old Wozniacki was in her first Grand Slam second week, beating a seed - No.21 Alyona Bondarenko - along the way, also notching impressive wins over Gisela Dulko and qualifier Sabine Lisicki (in which she fought from 4-6 2-4 down to win). She leaves Melbourne with a new wealth of experience.

"I'm very happy I made the fourth round. Of course, I wanted to win today as well. But I'm still happy, and I got a lot of good experience I can take with me for my next tournaments. I'm improving, and I showed I can play with the best."
<<<

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5. Quarter-final: Ivanović v Williams articles (Wednesday 23rd January)
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+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. VENUS WILLIAMS [8], 7-6 (7/3) 6-4

Ivanović storms into semi
By Adam Lucius <www.australianopen.com>
>>>
Exciting Serbian star Ana Ivanović is one match away from her second Grand Slam final after downing Venus Williams to reach the Australian Open semi-finals at Melbourne Park.

The 20-year-old No.4 seed claimed one of the game's biggest scalps - and a six-time Grand Slam winner - in straight sets, 7-6 (7/3) 6-4.

It was her first-ever win over Williams, pushing the world No.3 into a semi-final clash with Daniela Hantuchová, having last year reached the decider at the French Open.

Ivanović took a mistake-laden but thrilling first set in a tiebreak after both players traded blow-for-blow over 55 absorbing minutes.

Neither player was able to get her service-game going - six games going against serve - and the trend continued early in the tiebreak.

The Serbian won two points on Williams' serve to take a stranglehold on the tiebreak, eventually winning 7/3.

Williams, her left thigh heavily strapped, hinted at a revival when she broke Ivanović at 1-0 in the second set.

But the advantage was lost when Ivanović broke back at 3-1.

The Serbian set up victory when she broke Williams again at 4-4, holding serve after saving two break-points to take the match.

Ivanović, who has family in Melbourne and has been adopted by the centre-court crowd, shrieked with delight after her victory.

"It's amazing. You helped me to get through that second set," she told the crowd. "I'm thrilled because I love playing here, and I'm thrilled to be through."
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Ivanović digs deep to beat Venus
By Chris Bevan
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7203935.stm
>>>
Third seed Ana Ivanović was pushed all the way by Venus Williams before edging to a 7-6 (7/3) 6-4 victory in a tense Australian Open quarter-final.

Neither player could hold their serve in a pulsating first set, which Ivanović eventually won in a tiebreak.

Williams came out fighting in the second, but was reeled in by Ivanović's punishing forehand, and the Serb held her nerve to close out the match.

Ivanović will play Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchová in the last four.

Hantuchová, 24, marched into her first Grand Slam semi-final by thumping Polish teenager Agnieszka Radwańska.

That match was completely one-sided, but Ivanović had to work much harder to end the challenge of Williams - the eighth seed - in one hour and 46 minutes.

Both players were returning serve ferociously, and it was not a great surprise that there were six breaks in the first set.

But it was Williams who was making more unforced errors, with her backhand volley particularly unreliable, and two of them ended up in the net in quick succession as Ivanović took the tiebreak.

The former world number one was stung into action and, briefly, her serve regained its reliability to help her move 3-0 up in the second set.

Ivanović kept her cool, however, and some stinging crosscourt forehands helped her break back and move level again.

The accuracy of the Serbian's groundstrokes was the difference between the two players, and two more mistakes from Williams gave Ivanović another break at 5-4.

Williams raised her game again, but Ivanović served her way back to deuce before closing out a famous victory: her first over the American in five attempts.

"I'm just so happy I pulled through the whole two sets," Ivanović said. "It was an amazing match; we had lots of long rallies; she's an amazing competitor, and she was also playing very well today."

Ivanović, who has family living in Melbourne, was roared on by a vocal crowd at the Rod Laver Arena, and was quick to pay tribute to her fans.

"It's amazing. Thank you guys so much: you helped me get through that second set," the 20-year-old said. "Most of all, I'm thrilled that it happened here because I just love playing here, and I'm so comfortable here on court."

Williams, meanwhile, refuted claims that her defeat was further indication that she is a waning force in women's tennis.

"There has been a lot of talk every single year," she said. "I think what's important to me is what goes on in my head. I've been a champion.

"I have full expectations and aspirations to continue to play high-quality tennis, and to continue to be a champion."
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Ivanović downs Venus to reach semis (Reuters)
By Simon Cambers (editing by Ossian Shine)
>>>
Serbia's Ana Ivanović kept her nerve under pressure to beat American Venus Williams 7-6 6-4 on Wednesday and reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open for the first time.

In an error-strewn encounter, the fourth seed came from 0-3 down in the second set to earn her first win in five meetings with eighth seed Williams, setting up a semi-final against Daniela Hantuchová of Slovakia.

"It's amazing: it was an amazing match and I'm just so thrilled to be through," Ivanović said in a courtside interview.

"We had a lot of really long points, and [Venus] is an amazing competitor. She was also playing really well, I thought, as well."

Neither player was at their best in a first set that saw six service-breaks. Ivanović led 4-2 at one stage as Williams, who wore heavy strapping on her left thigh, seemed to be struggling to get her usual power on serve.

The American hit back to force a tiebreak, though, only to lose it 7/3 as Ivanović moved ahead.

Wimbledon-champion Williams, runner-up here in 2003, hit back strongly at the start of the second as she took a 3-0 lead, but Ivanović won five of the next six games to serve for the match at 5-4.

CLINCHED VICTORY

After falling 15/40 down, she dug deep to save both break-points, and finally clinched victory when Williams sent a forehand wide.

Ivanović said her improved fitness-regime had helped her become a more consistent competitor.

"I always struggled with my fitness," she said. "In the last 18 months I have come so far, and become so much fitter, which also helps stop injuries. I am just so happy I could fight through."

Ivanović, who reached her first Grand Slam final at the French Open last year, said she expected a hard match against Hantuchová.

"She's definitely on a roll; she's playing some great tennis here. It's going to be a very hard match, and it's a semi-final but it is a great chance for both of us."
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Venus ousted as Europeans dominate in Melbourne (Reuters)
By Ossian Shine (editing by Ed Osmond)
>>>
Europe tightened its stranglehold on this year's Australian Open when America's sole survivor in the women's singles, Venus Williams, was blasted out of the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Venus went the way of sister Serena, battered by a Serb baseliner, losing 7-6 6-4 to fourth seed Ana Ivanović.

"She played well and hit a lot of good shots, so I give her a lot of credit," the Wimbledon-champion said. "I have nobody to blame but myself."

Ivanović will meet Daniela Hantuchová in the semis after the Slovak pummelled Pole Agnieszka Radwańska 6-2 6-2.

Venus had been looking to avenge Serena's quarter-final loss to Serb Jelena Janković, but the result was the same as she floundered on a sun-drenched centre court.

The American simply committed too many errors, and allowed her 20-year-old opponent to dominate from the baseline.

GRABBED OPPORTUNITY

Ivanović grabbed her opportunity with both hands.

"It's amazing: it was an amazing match, and I'm just so thrilled to be through," Ivanović beamed in a courtside interview.

"We had a lot of really long points, and [Venus] is an amazing competitor."
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Fitter Ivanović shows steely Serb determination (Reuters)
By Simon Cambers (editing by Ed Osmond)
>>>
Fitter than ever before, and with a steely determination to succeed, a confident Ana Ivanović surged into the Australian Open semi-finals on Wednesday.

The Serbian fourth seed had never won a set in four previous meetings with Venus Williams, but outplayed the American 7-6 6-4 to reach the last four in Melbourne for the first time.

Together with Jelena Janković and Novak Đoković, Ivanović is one of three Serbians in the last four of the singles-events in Melbourne, matching their achievements at last year's French Open where Ivanović reached the final.

"I think from Eastern Europe, people are very, very determined to succeed," she told reporters.

"We are all big fighters and big competitors. Also Russians and Serbians. So I think it's very hard to [generalise], to say it's just from Eastern Europe. I think from all over the world, young players are coming up.

"It's amazing. We get a lot of support from back home. Every time I speak to my father back home, he always says how many people are following [their progress].

"I think it's great for our tennis, and it's becoming one of the major sports back home. Many kids are playing. It's just amazing to have two, three of us playing semi-finals at the Grand Slams. It's just like a dream coming true."

STRENUOUS REGIME

Ivanović said a strenuous regime with fitness-coach Scott Byrnes in the off-season had lifted her confidence and ability to fight through matches deep into the final sets.

"I'm really happy to see the results, because there were moments I was struggling, of course," she said.

"I did a lot of stair-sprints, sprints up the hills, in a gym, and also a lot of footwork on the court: specific footwork.

"It's a lot of fun working with [Byrnes]. I worked with a lot of fitness-coaches previously, but I never had so much fun working out. So that's obviously a very positive thing."

Ivanović expects a tough match against Slovakian ninth seed Daniela Hantuchová in the semi-finals.

"We both have a good chance, and I really hope it will be a good match," she said.

"We had tough matches last time we played in Madrid, and also before that in Luxembourg, and once more also last year on grass. I'm really looking forward to the challenge."
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Venus fails again as Ivanović, Đoković win at Australian Open tennis
by Martin Parry (AFP)
>>>
Ana Ivanović brought Venus Williams' Australian Open to a juddering halt on Wednesday as the impressive Novak Đoković ensured three Serbians will contest the semi-finals.

It was a sorry end for Williams, who was desperate to claim her first title at Melbourne Park to add to her four Wimbledon and two US Open crowns.

With her sister Serena, the defending champion, also out, it spelt the end of the tournament for the Williams' clan.

Ivanović, 20, overcame the American eighth seed in a ferociously-contested 7-6 (7/3) 6-4 thriller, and credited the crowd on centre court and her improved fitness for helping her into the last four for the first time.

"It was an amazing match; we had lots of long rallies; she's an amazing competitor and she was also playing very well today," the 20-year-old fourth seed said after posting her first win over Williams in four attempts.

"I'm just so happy I pulled through the whole two sets.

"Most of all, I'm thrilled that it happened here, because I just love playing here and I'm so comfortable here on court."

Williams played with her left thigh heavily strapped, but gave credit to her opponent. And she defiantly vowed to bounce back.

"I have full expectations and aspirations to continue to play high-quality tennis and to continue to be a champion," she said.

Standing between Ivanović and a final-appearance is Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchová, who blew Polish teenager Agnieszka Radwańska off court 6-2 6-2 as she continues her comeback after a dive in the rankings.

Ivanović will play ninth seed Hantuchová, ensuring at least one player in the final on Saturday will be contesting their first Australian decider.
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Roger Federer downs James Blake 7-5 7-6(5) 6-4 to reach Australian Open semi-finals
By Paul Alexander: Associated Press Writer
>>>
Serbia has a population of 10 million - half the size of Australia, which has zero home-players left here. Despite a shortage of facilities, the country is churning out good players, just like the rest of Eastern Europe.

Ana Ivanović ousted Venus Williams 7-6(3) 6-4 on Wednesday, while Jelena Janković beat Serena Williams a day earlier.

Russia's Maria Sharapova, ranked fifth, plays No. 3 Janković next, while No. 4 Ivanović will play No. 9 Daniela Hantuchová of Slovakia, who beat Poland's Agnieszka Radwańska 6-2 6-2 on Wednesday.

Ivanović had never won a set off Williams in four meetings, including the semi-finals at Wimbledon and the fourth round at the US Open. But she has improved her fitness dramatically, and it showed. Williams, her left thigh heavily taped, put in a lacklustre performance.

"I'm just so, so happy I managed to step up and keep my composure," the 20-year-old Ivanović said.

Neither player showed any respect for the other's serve. The first set had six consecutive breaks. Williams shook her head and sighed after her 21 unforced errors.

Williams turned it around to start the second set, rushing to a 3-0 lead. She was really pounding the ball, her grunts of exertion sounding nearly like screams.

Ivanović refused to wilt. She broke back, then ran off the last three games, rallying from 15/40 as she served for the match.

"I have to give a lot of credit to her," Williams said. "She played really well, made a lot of good shots. She's definitely improved on everything in her game. That's really what it takes at this level. You want to keep improving and playing, because we're all improving."

The Williams sisters have 14 singles Majors between them, but their one-time dominance on women's tennis is under serious challenge.

"There's been a lot of talk every single year," Venus Williams said. "I think what's important to me is what goes on in my head. I have full expectations and aspirations to continue to play high-quality tennis and to continue to be a champion.

"And I think Serena and I, we don't have anything to prove. We get out there and we play our best. I don't get too caught up in what the next person thinks."
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Ivanović comes through vs. Williams (PA SportsTicker)
>>>
Ana Ivanović survived a tough encounter with Venus Williams to secure her place in the semi-finals of the Australian Open on Wednesday.

The fourth-seeded Serbian completed a 7-6 (7/3) 6-4 victory to enjoy a first career-triumph over the No. 8 American and continue her stellar play since moving into the No. 3 spot in the world-rankings on 14th January.

Beating Williams for the first time in five meetings, Ivanović set up a semi-final encounter with No. 9 Daniela Hantuchová, who took down Agnieszka Radwańska earlier in the day.

"I worked very hard in my off-season," Ivanović said. "I'm really happy to see the results, because there were moments I was struggling, of course, because it's important to realise that it has to be hard on your practice-court so it will be easier for you in your matches."

Ivanović has not lost a set at this $20.6 million hardcourt Major, reaching the round of four for the first time since Wimbledon last year. She had her run at the All-England Club ended by Williams, who went on to claim her fourth title there.

"I thought I played some good tennis to win today," Ivanović said. "I was looking forward for some revenge. I went out there, and from the first moment on, I tried to think only on each point."

In a first set that featured six breaks of serve in the opening seven games, Ivanović jumped into an early 2-0 lead before Williams hit back.

"Obviously, it was a little bit strange, beginning of the match," Ivanović said. "I thought we both felt more comfortable returning. So, you know, it was a little bit disappointing because in the previous matches, I was serving really well."

A crushing forehand off the serve of Williams then set up three break-points for the Serbian, which she secured when the American hit a return into the net.

Williams, playing with her thigh heavily strapped, fought back to make it 3-2, and neither player could subsequently hold serve until Williams did so for the first time to level the match at 4-4.

The set headed to a tiebreak, and Ivanović took control after reeling off five consecutive points before taking the upper hand in the match when Williams hammered a simple-looking backhand volley into the net.

A finalist here in 2003, Williams broke her opponent early in the second set to take a 2-0 lead, but Ivanović broke back on the way to evening the match at 3-3. The 20-year-old then made the decisive breakthrough three games later by breaking Williams to give her a chance to serve for the match.

Despite slipping into a 15/40 hole, Ivanović battled back to deuce, and claimed victory when the American hit a forehand well wide.

"I think she [Ivanović] played good tennis today," Williams said. "Definitely I have to give a lot of credit to her. She played really well, made a lot of good shots. And, you know, I give her a lot of credit for playing good tennis.

"I think I moved, you know, okay today. I don't think I ran as many balls down, or played offensively on the defensive shot as well as I have in the past. And I think those things definitely make a difference in the match."

Ivanović figures to be the clear-cut favourite to emerge from the bottom of the draw, especially after the rising star Radwańska had her surprising run halted [as a Daniela Hantuchová fan, I say: hmph!].
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Ivanović takes out Venus Williams in quarter-finals (AP)
>>>
Venus Williams followed her sister Serena out of the Australian Open in the quarter-finals, both in losses to Serbian players.

Venus Williams went down 7-6(3) 6-4 to No.4-seeded Ana Ivanović on Wednesday: a day after defending champion Serena lost to No. 3 Jelena Janković.

Ivanović, who had never taken a set off Williams in four previous contests, is into the semi-finals for the third time at a Grand Slam and next faces first-timer Daniela Hantuchová, who beat Agnieszka Radwańska 6-2 6-2.

In the other women's semi-final on Thursday, Jankovic will meet No. 5 Maria Sharapova, who ended top-ranked Justine Henin's 32-match winning-streak 6-4 6-0.

After four straight losses to Williams, including the semi-finals at Wimbledon and the fourth round at the US Open, 20-year-old Ivanović was thrilled to win.

"It was an amazing match and I'm just thrilled to get through," Ivanović said. "In the last 18 months, I've come a long way.

"She's an amazing competitor and she was playing very well today."

Neither Ivanović nor Williams showed any respect for the other's serve, which is usually one of the strongest parts of Williams' game.

There were six consecutive breaks in the first set alone, with Williams winning only two points in her three service-games during that stretch as Ivanović repeatedly hit winners off serve-returns.

Mistakes were so rampant that the crowd didn't have much to cheer for on a sun-drenched day. Shaking her head and sighing, Williams had 21 unforced errors in the first set to just seven winners as she sprayed the ball all over the court.

She won just one of her five service-points in the tiebreaker, covering her face with her hand after netting a straightforward backhand volley to give Ivanović a 5-2 edge.

Then, after swatting away flies as she prepared to serve, Williams hit a swinging backhand volley into the net on set-point.

Williams, her left thigh heavily wrapped almost to her knee, picked up her game dramatically to start the second set, jumping out to a 3-0 lead. She was really pounding the ball, her grunts of exertion sounding nearly like screams.

But it didn't last as Ivanović broke back to get on serve. Then, after Williams fended off a break-point to take a 4-3 edge, Ivanović ran off the last three games, rallying from 15/40 as she served for the match.
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Ivanović downs Venus
By Pippa Davis (Eurosport)
>>>
Third seed Ana Ivanović bundled Venus Williams out of the Australian Open, holding her nerve under extreme pressure to record a 7-6 6-4 win and book a spot in the semi-finals for the first time.

The 20-year-old Serb opened the match in a confident manner, holding her opening service-game before both players struggled to find their rhythm on serve.

Six consecutive breaks of serve later, it was Williams who managed to get her serve back on track first: holding to level up at 4-4.

Ivanović, though, was not to be outdone, and held for the loss of just one point in the ninth game before both players held once more to send the intense first set into a tiebreak.

Although Williams had played some of her best tennis in the early stages of the tournament, the match was dominated by Ivanović, who was hitting the ball hard from the outset.

Ivanović snatched the mini-break midway through the tiebreak, planting a forehand winner smack on the baseline, before going on to seal the set 7/3 with 55 minutes on the clock, when Williams dumped a routine backhand volley into the bottom of the net.

Williams upped her aggression at the beginning of the second set to shut Ivanović out of the game completely and race out to a 3-0 lead. But Ivanović struck back, holding her serve in the fourth game before winning three of the next four games to leave the set finely poised at 4-4.

The Serb then produced some of the most impressive tennis of the fortnight to break when Williams slapped another volley into the net, leaving Ivanović serving for the match.

Despite Williams earning herself two break-back points, Ivanović held her nerve with a service-winner and a second ace to level up at deuce, before the American thumped two unforced errors on the forehand side to concede the match.

Ivanović will now face ninth seed Daniela Hantuchová in the semi-finals after the Slovak beat Agnieszka Radwańska 6-2 6-2 in her quarter-final.

Ana Ivanović said: "It's amazing: it was an amazing match, and I'm just so thrilled to be through. We had a lot of really long points, and [Venus] is an amazing competitor. She was also playing really well, I thought, as well.

"I always struggled with my fitness. In the last 18 months, I have come so far, and become so much fitter, which also helps stop injuries. I'm really happy to see the results, because there were moments I was struggling, of course. I am just so happy I could fight through."

Venus Williams said: "I think she's definitely improved on everything in her game. That's really what it takes at this level. You want to keep improving and playing, because we're all improving. I think it [heavy strapping on the thigh] helped me for it to not get worse. But I can't blame my loss on that. I think that she just played some good tennis. I never talk about my injuries. I don't like things to get too blurred up, if I was injured or not. I didn't win."
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Ivanović Finally Overcomes Williams; Hantuchová Next
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/3/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=1998
>>>
Ana Ivanović and Daniela Hantuchová both defied the odds on Wednesday; having never taken a set off of their quarter-final foes, they powered into the Australian Open semi-finals in straight sets.

Following Hantuchová into the semis was No.4 seed Ivanović, who overcame a 4:0 head-to-head deficit to Venus Williams - having never taken even a set off the No.8 seed - to reach her first Australian Open semi-final: 7-6(3) 6-4. The players were shaky on serve in the early goings, with six of the first seven games going against the server - but from 4-4, they held on tightly and would head to a tiebreak, where Ivanović came out on top: 7/3.

Things seemed headed in the exact opposite direction early in the second set, as Williams burst to a 3-0 lead while the errors started piling up on Ivanović's side. But the 20-year-old Serb regrouped, playing herself back into things with clutch serving and groundstrokes. She broke for 5-4, and just when it looked like the breaking-pattern was about to resume - she went down 15/40 in that game - Ivanović rebounded with four straight points to win the match.

"Obviously, it was a little bit of a strange beginning to the match," Ivanović said. "I think we both felt more comfortable returning. So it was a little disappointing, because in our previous matches I was serving really well. I am still really happy with my performance today though, especially the way I came back in that second set and won it. It was amazing."

"I have no one to blame but myself; I definitely could have made a couple more shots today," said Williams, who hit 35 errors to just 14 winners. "I have to take full responsibility. But I think she played good tennis today. I definitely have to give a lot of credit to her. She played really well and made a lot of good shots."

In addition to reaching her third Major semi-final, overcoming a disastrous head-to-head was the icing on the cake for Ivanović.

"It's definitely a great achievement for me," Ivanović added. "A few times I was close to winning the sets, especially the first time we played. So I knew she would go for her shots. I'm so, so happy I managed to step up and keep my composure and win the match."

In nine appearances at the Australian Open, Williams' best performance was a runner-up finish to Serena in 2003. But the 27-year-old American still hopes she will capture one of the two Majors to have eluded her.

"I think everyone's playing better," Williams stated. "Ana obviously hits a good ball. Everyone's hitting a good ball, trying to hit harder, trying to run faster and serve bigger. I feel like I can still do it just as well as the next person, and a lot of times better. So I still feel confident in my abilities.

"I would love to win here. I still think I can. Unfortunately, it won't be this year."
<<<

BBC Sport's game-by-game description of Ivanović v Williams:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7201655.stm

Ana's quarter-final press-conference:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/interviews/2008-01-23/200801231201075636662.html

Venus Williams: "Unfortunately, I don't have a time-machine, so I cannot reverse this loss. If any of you have one, please let me know."

-------------------------------------------
6. Semi-final: Ivanović v Hantuchová review (Thursday 24th January)
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Nice winner, nice loser:
+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF], 0-6 6-3 6-4

Oh dear! Daniela led 6-0 2-0*, and also had a break-point at 3-2* in the third set - which went with serve until Daniela at *4-4 netted a forehand volley that should have been an easy putaway.

Daniela actually won more games (13-12) and more points (83-80) than Ana, and had better first-serve percentages (in and points won) than Ana - but if you ignore the first set, Ana's percentages were better. While they each had 7 BPs, Daniela broke 4 times (before 6-0 2-0), Ana just 3 times (after 6-0 2-0).

Daniela finished the match with a negative W:UE ratio of 27:33, while Ana's was a positive 29:25 (not surprisingly, these ratios were the other way round in the first set).

Daniela was cross during and after this match, because during her service-motion, she allowed herself to be distracted by the loud squeaking of Ana's shoes as Ana prepared to receive. Daniela complained to the umpire, and later to the press, who relayed Daniela's comments to Ana, putting the words "deliberately" and "gamesmanship" in Daniela's mouth, but Ana said she wasn't doing it deliberately to put Daniela off, and that Daniela was just "picking on it to get upset".

Without having watched the match myself, I tend to side with Ana on this issue. Squeaking shoes are a natural byproduct of good footwork on Plexicushion, and unless there is video 'footage' to show that Ana was squeaking her shoes on purpose, Daniela's complaint sounds as ridiculous as the accusations that Sania Mirza has dishonoured the Indian flag by putting her feet on it - the difference being that Daniela is not demanding a three-year jail-sentence.

Daniela complained that the umpire ignored her complaint, but it wouldn't have been right to give Ana a code-violation when you think it through. What was Ana supposed to do - stop moving? Play barefoot?

As a tennis-player, you can't let such distractions get to you like a dripping tap - you simply have to block them out.

I hope Daniela can learn from this loss rather than acquiring yet more psychological scars. It's very encouraging for 2008 that she has reached her first Grand Slam semi-final on top of all the great progress she made in 2007.

Daniela at 24 may be drawing ever closer to the average career-expectancy for a female tennis-player (26 seems to be the mode age for retirement in recent years, and no member of my Eternal Fanship has ever played a WTA singles-match in her 30s, though three of my eleven have reached their 30s now), but she's of a different stature now than when she was in her early tweens: a stature that could see her regularly reach Grand Slam quarter- and semi-finals.


4.1 Articles
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Ivanović sets up Sharapova final [CEEFAX 490->492]
>>>
Ana Ivanović will face Maria Sharapova in the Australian Open final after a dramatic three-set win against ninth seed Daniela Hantuchová.

Hantuchová started much the stronger, and raced through the first set 6-0.

It took Ivanović, from Serbia, 45 minutes to win her first game, but she settled and took the second set 6-3.

The third set went with serve until 4-4, when three errors from the Slovak helped fourth seed Ivanović to break, and the Serb closed things out 6-4.
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Hantuchová blasts Ivanović tactic [CEEFAX 490->493]
>>>
Daniela Hantuchová has accused Ana Ivanović of gamesmanship after the Serb won their Australian Open semi-final.

Hantuchová, who let slip a 6-0 2-0 lead to lose 0-6 6-3 6-4, claimed she was regularly put off in serving by a squeak when Ivanović shuffled her feet.

"I was really surprised by that," said Hantuchová, claiming umpire Alison Lang ignored her early complaint.

"I think it's unfair. It's a distraction to the server. We played before and she never did it."
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Ivanović fights back to reach final [Teletext 495->499]
>>>
Ivanović stages comeback [Teletext 498]

Fourth seed Ana Ivanović produced a stirring comeback to book her place in the final at Melbourne Park.

The 20-year-old Serbian defeated Slovakian ninth seed Daniela Hantuchová 0-6 6-3 6-4 to set up a meeting with Maria Sharapova in Saturday's final.

Ivanović was blown away in the first set, but recovered her composure, and took advantage of her powerful serve to seal a second Grand Slam final-spot.


Ivanović blames fatigue [Teletext 498]

Ana Ivanović felt her draining quarter-final win over Venus Williams played a part in her terrible start against Daniela Hantuchová in the semis.

The world No 3 lost the opening set 6-0, but bravely fought back to win the next two and reach Saturday's final.

Ivanović said: "I didn't have a day off in between, and the roof was closed, so it made it a lot faster. Playing Venus was emotional, and drained me a little."


Hantuchová made complaint [Teletext 498]

Daniela Hantuchová has revealed she made a complaint to the umpire because she felt the shoes of opponent Ana Ivanović were squeaking too loudly.

The Slovakian was bundled out of the semi-final in three sets, and felt Ivanović's shoes had been a major distraction while she was serving.

Hantuchová said: "I think it's unfair. It's a distraction to the server. She's never done it when we played before."
<<<

Ana digs deep to down Daniela
By Adam Lucius <www.australianopen.com>
>>>
Ana Ivanović recovered from a disastrous start to pull off a remarkable semi-final win over Daniela Hantuchová in the second of the women's semi-finals at the Australian Open.

The Serb surrendered the first set before winning in three - 0-6 6-3 6-4 - in an incredible back-from-the-dead performance.

Hantuchová stunned the big Rod Laver Arena crowd by taking the first set in just 25 minutes.

It was the first time in 112 sets of Grand Slam tennis that Ivanović had been beaten to love.

History augured well for Hantuchová, who had won 49 of 53 Grand Slam matches after taking the first set.

Ivanović's problems on serve continued in the second set, the No.4 seed dropping the first game as Hantuchová held to take a 2-0 lead.

Lifted by the crowd, Ivanović held serve in her next game, and then broke Hantuchová to level at 2-2.

The turning point came at 4-3 when Hantuchová double-faulted to hand the Serb the game and a 5-3 advantage.

Ivanović served out the set to complete stage one of a remarkable comeback.

The third set went to serve until Ivanović broke at 4-4, giving her the impetus to go on and seal an incredible win.

"I tried to stay calm [after losing the first set], but it wasn't easy. I won because of you guys [the crowd]," Ivanović said.

"If it wasn't for you, I'd be booking my flight back home."
<<<

Frenchman Tsonga knocks Nadal out of Australian Open for a shot at title
By John Pye: AP Sports Writer
>>>
On the women's side, No. 4 Ana Ivanović was down a set and a break against Daniela Hantuchová before rebounding for a 0-6 6-3 6-4 win to reach her second Grand Slam final.

Ivanović won her first game while down 0-2 in the second set. That brought cheers from the crowd, and she said it was inspiration.

She broke Hantuchová twice to make it one set apiece. After battling to hold serve in a 10-minute game that went to deuce seven times, she broke again, and served out to reach her second final in four Majors.
<<<

Ivanović comes back from the dead to reach Aussie Open final (AFP)
>>>
Serbian fourth seed Ana Ivanović staged a barnstorming comeback from eight games down on Thursday to beat Slovak Daniela Hantuchová and set up an Australian Open final against Maria Sharapova.

Ivanović, backing up a day after a bruising scrap against Venus Williams, allowed ninth seed Hantuchová to run away with the match before roaring back to win 0-6 6-3 6-4.

The 20-year-old looked like wilting in humid conditions under the closed roof of the Rod Laver Arena, taking 46 minutes to win her first game, and reviving memories of her choke in last year's French Open final.

Urged on by the Melbourne Park crowd, the Serb clawed her way back into the match, admitting she was surprised at the intensity of an opponent in Hantuchová contesting her first Grand Slam semi-final.

"She was playing really good, and I was always on the back foot and always defending," Ivanović said.

"I didn't find my rhythm, and I knew I had to go for the shots before her, because she likes to dominate. I tried to hang in there.

"But I just tried to tell myself that she can't keep up that level throughout the whole match. I knew I would get a chance at some point, and that helped me a lot."

Ivanović will struggle to recover from such a slow start in the final against an in-form Sharapova, but can count on the support of the Melbourne Park crowd, which includes locally-based relatives and expatriate Serbs.

"If it wasn't for you guys, I would be already booking my flight back home," the relieved world number three said after the win.

The Serbian beauty, who can live up to her billing as the next big thing in women's tennis with a tournament-win, said she was disappointed with her slow start, but encouraged by the way she fought back.

She also dismissed complaints from Hantuchová that the squeaking from her shoes as she prepared to return serve was an annoying distraction that contributed to the win.

"If you see other matches, I was doing exactly the same thing - it's just the way these courts play," she said.

"I just tried to move my feet, to return the ball, so it really was not intentional."

Ivanović, 20, began nervously as her serve misfired, double-faulting to go down a break in the opening game, and failing to score a point in the second.

The 24-year-old Slovak, who enjoyed an armchair-ride to the semis while Ivanović battled through a bruising clash with Venus Williams, looked fresher than her opponent.

Hantuchová stunned Ivanović to take the first set 6-0 after just 25 minutes.

Ivanović stretched the opening game of the second for eight minutes, but eventually conceded another break.

She finally held serve in the third game, and went on to score a crucial break back, for the first time unleashing some of the aggression that helped her down Williams.

The Serb's recent fitness-work, which included playing in sauna-like conditions at a British training-centre to prepare for Melbourne's heat, began to pay off as her movement improved late in the second set.

She claimed another break in the eighth game, then went on the defend serve with an ace and take the match to a third set.

It turned into a 59 minute minute arm-wrestle, Ivanović seizing the decisive break in the ninth game then serving out the match, slumping to the floor after Hantuchová netted a return to give her victory.
<<<

Sharapova, Ivanović to battle for Aussie tennis Grand Slam (AFP)
>>>
A dogged Ana Ivanović staged a stunning comeback on Thursday to make the Australian Open final, where a sizzling Maria Sharapova stands between her and a maiden Grand Slam title.

The Serbian fourth seed looked dead and buried after going down 6-0 in the first set of her semi-final with Slovak ninth seed Daniela Hantuchová, but turned the tables in emphatic fashion to win the next two 6-3 6-4.

Ivanović looked like wilting in humid conditions with the roof of the Rod Laver Arena closed due to rain, taking 46 minutes to win her first game, and reviving memories of her choke in last year's French Open final.

But the 20-year-old recovered after allowing Hantuchová to rattle off eight straight games, cheered on by an ecstatic Melbourne Park crowd.

"She's a tough player, and I knew I had to go for my shots early in the rally, and it was frustrating because I couldn't make any - she was playing really well," she said, applauding the crowd for helping her regroup.

"I tried to stay calm as much as I could, but obviously it wasn't easy."
<<<

Ivanović fights back to reach final (Reuters)
By Simon Cambers (editing by Ed Osmond)
>>>
Serbian Ana Ivanović recovered from a terrible start to beat Daniela Hantuchová of Slovakia 0-6 6-3 6-4 and reach the Australian Open final on Thursday.

Fourth seed Ivanović looked frozen with nerves as she dropped the first eight games of the semi-final, but as Hantuchová's level dipped, she recovered strongly to set up a final against Russian fifth seed Maria Sharapova.

Ivanović, runner-up at last year's French Open, said she had only had one thought when she trailed 0-6 0-2.

"To win a game," she laughed in a courtside interview. "It's actually not so funny. She's a tough playerm, and I knew I had to go for my shots early in the rallies and I was missing them. It was frustrating."

Ivanović was far too tentative at first as ninth seed Hantuchová, in her first Grand Slam semi-final, blasted winners on both sides, romping to a 6-0 2-0 lead.

The Serbian finally held serve in the third game of the second set, and suddenly the match changed as she became more aggressive, hitting her groundstrokes with much greater authority.

A fortunate netcord helped her break back for 2-2, and she then cruised through the rest of the set to level the match.

Hantuchová had a break-point that would have given her a 4-2 lead in the decider, but Ivanović held on before some great scrambling gave her a break when Hantuchová missed a simple volley.

The Serbian then showed no sign of nerves to serve out for victory after two hours, 10 minutes, and a disappointed Hantuchová did not look at Ivanović when the pair shook hands at the net.

Ivanović, who said she had struggled to focus after an emotional win over Venus Williams in the previous round, thanked the crowd for their support.

"I won just because of you guys," she said. "If it wasn't for you guys, I would be already booking my flight back home."

Ivanović said she hoped not to repeat the same mistakes when she plays Sharapova in the final on Saturday.

"She has had a great tournament, beating Justine [Henin]," Ivanović said. "We are 2:2 in matches, and hopefully I can start better than today."
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Sharapova, Ivanović take contrasting routes to final (Reuters)
By Ossian Shine (editing by Ed Osmond)
>>>
Serb powerhouse Ana Ivanović staged a sensational fightback to reach the Australian Open final on Thursday, and will meet Maria Sharapova when she guns for a first Grand Slam title.

FIRST-SET WHITEWASH

The pair reached Saturday's showpiece in vastly contrasting styles, Sharapova pummelling Serb Jelena Janković 6-3 6-1, while fourth seed Ivanović recovered from a first-set whitewash to oust Daniela Hantuchová 0-6 6-3 6-4.

Ivanović won just nine points in the first set, and trailed 0-6 0-2 before pulling things around.

"It definitely was a disappointing start for me," the relieved 20-year-old smiled.

"I just had a feeling she was playing really good, and I was always on the back foot and always defending. I just couldn't find my rhythm. I tried to hang in there to stay with her."

"If it wasn't for you guys, I would be booking my flight home," she told the crowd.

Ivanović had looked finished when her Slovak opponent swept through the first set and broke early in the second.

Seemingly frozen with nerves, the fourth seed kept pounding away at her groundstrokes, however, and finally they began to pay off as Hantuchová's standard slipped.

She reeled her opponent in, and finally sealed what had seemed an unlikely victory in two hours, 10 minutes.
<<<

Ivanović denies gamesmanship accusations (Reuters)
By Simon Cambers (editing by Ed Osmond)
>>>
Serbia's Ana Ivanović denied accusations that she used gamesmanship during her 0-6 6-3 6-4 victory over Daniela Hantuchová in the Australian Open semi-finals on Thursday.

A disappointed Hantuchová let slip a 6-0 2-0 lead, and later criticised the fourth seed, saying the way she shuffled her feet before the server hits the ball, which results in loud squeaking, was off-putting and unfair.

"That was ridiculous, I think," Hantuchová told reporters.

"I was really surprised with that. I think it's unfair. It's a distraction to the server. We played before and she never did it."

Hantuchová said she had complained to umpire Alison Lang.

"[I told the umpire] in the first or second service-game, but she didn't do anything about it. I don't think that [the squeaking] was very nice."

But Ivanović said she did not deliberately make a squeaking-noise.

"I just tried to move my feet, to return the ball, so it really was not intentional," Ivanović said.

"If you see other matches, I was doing exactly the same thing. It's just the way these courts play. And if you listen to the guys, I think they're doing the same thing.

"Once I saw she was complaining [to the umpire]. But there was nothing I could do, because if I want to move my feet to return a ball, you know, this was the sound I was producing.

"And also, during the point, if I want to run with small steps around the ball, it was exactly the same thing. So maybe she was just trying to pick on something, to get upset."

Hantuchová gave Ivanović little more than a cursory handshake at the end, having thought the Serbian had not got to the ball on the first bounce on the point that gave the fourth seed the vital break in the final set.

But the Slovakian, appearing in her first Grand Slam semi-final, said she was just disappointed with her defeat.

"It's just tough, tough to accept that you lose. So I just wanted to get off the court as soon as possible.

"I thought it was a double bounce, but maybe it was just my mistake. I should have played the point anyway."

Despite the defeat, Hantuchová said her run to the last four promised much for the rest of the year.

"In the days to come, I think I will go back and look at the tournament as a very positive thing," she said.

"I proved once again, to myself, that if I play my game, I can beat anybody. It's just a matter of doing it for the whole match."
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Sharapova, Ivanović reach final (PA 'first prize' SportsTicker)
>>>
Maria Sharapova will get a chance to redeem herself in the Australian Open final.

The fifth-seeded Russian capped her dominant run through the top of the draw on Thursday with a 6-3 6-1 victory over No. 3 Jelena Janković in the semi-finals of the season's first Grand Slam.

Sharapova will be after her third Grand Slam title on Saturday when she faces fourth-seeded Serbian Ana Ivanović, who overcame a disastrous start to rally past No. 9 Daniela Hantuchová: 0-6 6-3 6-4.

Ivanović, who had not dropped a set here prior to her meltdown in the opening set, will be appearing in the second Grand Slam championship match of her career.

Ivanović was a runner-up to Henin at Roland Garros last season, and followed up that effort by reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals.

Hantuchová, her own worst enemy with 33 unforced errors and five double-faults, was bidding for her first Grand Slam final in this her 29th consecutive Major.

"It's very disappointing at the moment, but I think with days to come, I think I will go back and look at the tournament as a very positive thing," Hantuchová said. "I think it gives me a lot of hope for the whole year.

"I think I proved once again, myself, that if I play my game I can beat anybody. Just a matter of doing it for the whole match."

The 24-year-old Slovakian was strong early as she earned four consecutive breaks to capture the first eight games of the match.

A shell-shocked Ivanović finally started showing signs of life, securing her first break, and holding serve to forge a 3-2 edge in the second set.

"I had to calm down for today's victory," Ivanović said. "[Hantuchová] is a tough player, I had to go for my shots early in the rally, and it was frustrating because I couldn't make any."

Hantuchová double-faulted on the final point of the eighth game to hand a 5-3 lead to Ivanović, who served out the set without losing a point.

Both players held serve early in the third set, with Ivanović saving the first break-point of the set during an extended sixth game that included seven deuces.

Hantuchová was the first to blink at 4-4, as Ivanović gained a break on the heels of three unforced errors by the Slovak, who - trailing 30/40 - dumped a potential winner into the net.

Though friends off the court, Hantuchová was upset that her service-game was disrupted by Ivanović's stutter-step footwork - which resulted in sharp squeaking-sounds.

"That's ridiculous, I think," Hantuchová said. "I was really surprised with that. I think it's unfair. It's a distraction to the server. We played before and she never did it.

"[I told the umpire] in the first or second service-game, but she didn't do anything about it. I don't think that was very nice."

Ivanović said she has done the same thing in other matches, and it's a simply a matter of how the courts play.

"I just tried to move my feet, to return the ball, so it really was not intentional," she said. "Maybe she was just trying to pick on something, to get upset."

Ivanović and Sharapova, who will be playing for the $1.2 million first prize, have split four career-meetings.
<<<

Sharapova rolls into Australian Open final (AP)
>>>
Just when it looked like the Serbian fans were going to head home very disappointed, Ana Ivanović gave them something to cheer for.

Seemingly headed for a quick departure after drawing a blank in the first set, fourth-ranked Ivanović made a dramatic turnaround and landed a spot in the Australian Open finals against Maria Sharapova with a 0-6 6-3 6-4 victory over No. 9 Daniela Hantuchová on Thursday.

Now she gets the unenviable task of trying to derail No. 5 Sharapova, who was sharp again in overwhelming Serbia's Jelena Janković 6-3 6-1.

The second match started as a near-replay. Ivanović credited her fans for helping her rally.

"If it wasn't for you guys, I would already be booking my flight back home," she told the crowd.

Ivanović appeared to have a letdown at the start after beating Venus Williams in the previous round. She repeatedly tried to psyche herself up as she won only nine points in the first set.

Hantuchová had her constantly sprinting side to side with sharp groundstrokes, mixed with well-placed spins that kept Ivanović from finding any rhythm.

"I think she didn't miss a ball," Ivanović said. "I just tried to tell myself that she can't keep up that level throughout the whole match. I knew I would get a chance at some point."

When Ivanović finally held for her first game while already down 0-2 in the second set, the crowd erupted in cheers of sympathetic relief.

The small victory provided just what she needed: a jolt of confidence.

Finally hitting with authority, Ivanović broke twice to pull ahead 5-3, then held at love. What had been a rout in the making was even with a set to go.

Hantuchová shockingly blinked while serving at 4-4. She fended off one break point at 15/40, and set herself up to save the second with a drop-volley. Ivanović scrambled to keep it in play but was out of court when Hantuchová netted an easy volley.

Hantuchová wasn't sure what happened to her.

"Good question," she said. "If I knew that I think, I would have changed it while I was still on the court. That's tennis. I had a great opportunity, but it just didn't happen for me today."

She complained to the umpire that while she was serving, Ivanović's shoes were squeaking loudly.

"That's ridiculous, I think," she said. "I think it's unfair. It's a distraction to the server. We played before and she never did it."

Ivanović denied she was doing it intentionally.

"If you see other matches I was doing exactly the same thing," she said. "It's just the way these courts play. And if you listen to the guys, I think they're doing the same thing. I just tried to move my feet, to return the ball."
<<<

Sharapova, Ivanović Reach Australian Open Final
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/3/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=2001
>>>
The tension that was missing from the first semi-final was certainly there during the second, and at the end of the day it was Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanović who were able to battle through to the Australian Open title match with very contrasting victories.

The straight-set dismissal of one Serb was nearly repeated by another, as an in-form Daniela Hantuchová played flawless tennis to build a 6-0 2-0 lead over Ana Ivanović in the second semi-final match of the day. But a few critical forehand-mistakes from the No.9 seed gave No.4 seed Ivanović hope, and the aggressive Serb played her way back into things in a hurry, evening it at a set apiece.

The 59-minute third set was full of drama as the two women continued to hold tightly to their service through the first eight games, with the sole exception of Ivanović's 2-3 service-game, in which she saved break-point (which would have given Hantuchová a 4-2 lead) and finally held after seven deuces. But the Slovak would be the first to crack, losing her serve at 4-4 with a putaway volley into the net. Ivanović confidently served out the 0-6 6-3 6-4 victory.

"She wasn't missing a ball and was making almost all of her first serves; but I just tried to tell myself she can't keep up that level throughout the whole match and I knew I'd get a chance at some point," Ivanović said. "I had a chance to win the first game of the second set but didn't, then I went down a break. But I was so, so happy to fight through that second set. And once I managed to win it I felt much more comfortable, and a lot more confident going into the third set.

"At 2-3 in the third set, we had long game and I managed to win it. I knew she was probably mentally a bit down about that. I knew I had to step up and do something different, and I managed to break her. I think it was a huge moment."

"I was just really pleased with the way I was doing things until that 6-0 2-0 game," Hantuchová said. "I think I proved once again to myself, if I play my game I can beat anybody. It's a matter of doing it the whole match. It's really disappointing now, but in the days to come, I'll look back at the tournament as a very positive thing. It gives me a lot of hope for the whole year."

The comeback from a first-set bagel has been quite a rare sight on the Grand Slam stage - only once before had a player pulled it off, the honour going to She Who Must Not Be Named, who beat Sánchez-Vicario at Roland Garros in 1992: 0-6 6-2 6-2 [apparently they've forgotten Daniela's loss to Shinobu Asagoe at Wimbledon 2003].
<<<

Ivanović edges Hantuchová
By Pippa Davis (Eurosport)
>>>
Fourth seed Ana Ivanović booked her place in the final of the Australian Open with a battling 0-6 6-3 6-4 comeback-win over Daniela Hantuchová.

Trailing by a set and 2-0, Ivanović looked down and out, but won six of the next seven games to take the second set, before battling through a tight third to set up a final-clash with Maria Sharapova on Saturday.

Ivanović looked frozen to the spot by nerves in the opening stages of the match, in much the same state that saw her lose the French Open final 6-1 6-2 to Justine Henin last year.

Meanwhile ninth seed Hantuchová, high in confidence after reaching her first Grand Slam semi-final, was blasting winners from all over the court, and there were just 23 minutes on the clock when the Slovak served out the bagel first set.

Ivanović finally managed to get on the scoreboard in the ninth game of the match, much to the delight of the crowd, and wasted no time in breaking the Hantuchová serve to level up the second set.

The Slovak held to stop the run of games against, and both players secured another hold apiece before Ivanović struck again. Trailing 3-4, Hantuchová threw in a poor game, tamely surrendering her serve with a double fault to hand Ivanović the opportunity to serve out the set.

Ivanović, who will become the new world number two next week regardless of the outcome of Saturday's final, duly held to love to seal the set, and looked to have the momentum going into the third.

But Hantuchová refused to be pressurised into collapsing, and got back on track with a service-hold in the opening game of the third set. The 24-year-old even looked the more likely to take the initiative, holding a break-point during an epic sixth game that involved seven deuces, and holding to love in her following service-game.

But Ivanović stuck with her opponent before breaking in the ninth game when Hantuchová, who had an entirely open court to play with, tapped a very nervy forehand into the top of the net.

The Serb then confidently served out the match to love, setting up the Sharapova-clash after Hantuchová slapped a forehand return of serve into the net.

Ivanović said: "It definitely was a disappointing start for me. First game I was a little bit nervous and my serve didn't work very well, and I didn't move as good as I should have. I didn't find my rhythm, and I knew I had to go for the shots before her, because she likes to dominate. I just couldn't find my rhythm. I tried to hang in there, you know, to stay with her. I just tried to tell myself that she can't keep up that level throughout the whole match. I knew I would get a chance at some point, and that helped me a lot."

Hantuchová said: "[The way Ivanović moved and squeaked her shoes while waiting to receive] was ridiculous I think. I was really surprised with that. I think it's unfair. It's a distraction to the server. We played before and she never did it. In the first or second service-game, [I told the umpire] but she didn't do anything about it. I don't think [the squeaking] was very nice. It's just tough, tough to accept that you lose. So I just wanted to get off the court as soon as possible."
<<<

NUMBERS GAME
By Neil Frankland: AP Sports Writer
>>>
Ana Ivanović's climb up the WTA rankings is catching her by surprise.

Fourth-seeded Ivanović rallied to beat Daniela Hantuchová 0-6 6-3 6-4 in two hours, 10 minutes to reach the Australian Open final and earn herself the No. 2 position when the new rankings are released next week.

Only she didn't realise it.

"Really? No, really? Oh, okay. Well, great," Ivanović responded when told of her new ranking. "I really didn't expect that. That's definitely good, so one more spot to go."

Ivanović will next face fifth-seeded Maria Sharapova, who cruised past Jelena Janković 6-3 6-1.
<<<

Ana's Australian Open Blog
http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/1/newsroom/stories/?ContentID=1968
>>>
What a match! I've had a few good comebacks in my career and that was one of the best. I made a terrible start, but it was more a case of Daniela playing so well than me not performing. At 6-0 2-0 it was almost embarrassing. She was playing great tennis and nothing seemed to be working for me. I think I'm a pretty good fighter, and I just hung in there and my serve helped me. I knew the longer I stayed in the match the more chance there was of her level going down. On the other hand, I was able to focus better in the second set and my form improved.

In a situation such as that, mental energy becomes just as important as physical. It was just 24 hours after my win over Venus, and I had been very excited during that match. I would have liked to have had a day to recover, to calm down and recharge, but I obviously had to play another very important match.

Last year I had some good comeback wins against Vaidišová, Janković and also Hantuchová. The most important thing when you are behind – and this may sound obvious – is to just stay positive and forget about the score. I didn't panic and think, "I must break here." I took it point-by-point, and it worked out well.
<<<

Popcorn tennis - day 11
By Darren Saligari <www.australianopen.com>
>>>
Ana Ivanović d Daniela Hantuchová 0-6 6-3 6-4. It looked like it was going to be a gimme for Hantuchová: she took the first set 6-0 while Ivanović looked on helplessly. Then the game changed. Ivanović started to move better, shots started hitting the lines, and suddenly we had a game on our hands. Ivanović squared the ledger, winning the second set, and then it was game on in the third.

It'll be a long drive home for Daniela Hantuchová. She looked like she had this one, but somehow Ana Ivanović forced her way back into a match that looked all but over.
<<<

Ana: Struggle makes me strong
By Adam Lucius <www.australianopen.com>
>>>
First-time Australian Open finalist Ana Ivanović believes the experience gleaned from her amazing semi-final escape provides the perfect preparation for a shot at the title.

The Serb will meet Russia's Maria Sharapova in Saturday's decider after coming from a set down to overpower a stage-struck Daniela Hantuchová in a thrilling semi on Rod Laver Arena.

Ivanović was in dreadful touch early, conceding the first set 0-6 before coming home 6-3 6-4 to steal the match and give herself a massive confidence-boost ahead of her second Grand Slam final.

"It definitely does [give me a lift]," Ivanović declared.

"I didn't perform the best I could today, and my serve-percentage was quite low, but I just managed to fight through it."

"It was a little bit flat in the beginning. These things I'm facing for probably the first time in my career, and it's definitely something I can learn from."

"I was just really proud of myself [for coming back]."

Asked where it had gone wrong early, the No.4 seed replied: "In the first game, I was a little bit nervous, and my serve didn't work very well, and I didn't move as good as I should have."

"I didn't find my rhythm, and I knew I had to go for the shots before her, because she likes to dominate."

"I tried to hang in there, to stay with her."

"In the second set, I managed to fight through, and then once I managed to win it, I felt much more comfortable and had a lot more confidence."

A philosophical Hantuchová said after her first Grand Slam semi-final appearance: "It's very disappointing at the moment, but I think in the days to come I will go back and look at the tournament as a very positive thing."

"I think it gives me a lot of hope for the whole year."

"I think I proved once again to myself that if I play my game, I can beat anybody."

"It's just a matter of doing it for the whole match."

"It's going to be a great experience for me."

Hantuchová refused to predict a tournament-winner, saying the finalists were too evenly matched to split.
<<<

Ana's semi-final press-conference (can't they ever interview her without using the word "boyfriend", even after she declared her current single-status?):
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/interviews/2008-01-24/200801241201163845756.html

Daniela's semi-final press-conference:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/interviews/2008-01-24/200801241201164552849.html

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7. Final: Ivanović v Sharapova TV-report (Saturday 26th January)
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Nice winner, nice loser:
+ MARIA SHARAPOVA [5,EF] d. ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF], 7-5 6-3

A thoroughly-deserved Grand Slam title for Maria, who was on fire all the way to the final - particularly her destructions of Lindsay Davenport (6-1 6-3) and Justine Henin (6-4 6-0), both of which I saw on BBCi. She didn't drop a set all tournament, but the first set of the final was certainly the toughest of her tournament, and Ana was the only player to take 8 games off her.

They not only /looked/ great, they /sounded/ great too! Most of Maria's grunts were what the late Bill Threlfall described as her 'song-grunt': that pure, high-pitched shriek. While Ana's grunt is quieter: like a moan with a sexy twang to it.

A final so full of talent, so full of beauty, but I must admit that the quality of the tennis - played in heat of up to 35°C - was rather ragged. Both girls played brilliantly in patches, but they both made some horrendous unforced errors too. Ana in particular seemed to think that she had to go for broke to have a shot at winning.

Close score, but what the match really lacked was them both playing well at the same time. Most of the rallies were very short, with either one player dominating and hitting a quick winner, or an error. The best rally was probably the 12th point of the second set (0-0* Ad Maria), where Maria seemed to have all the initiative as she came in behind a searing crosscourt forehand, but Ana completely turned the point on its head with a brilliant defensive forehand lob onto the baseline.

The best passage of play was the first six games of the match. Ana made a good start, holding serve twice for 2-1*. Then Maria showed some of the unbelievable brilliance that destroyed Henin - not just power but accuracy - as she broke and held for 4-2*.

But then Maria completely disintegrated in front of our eyes, throwing in three double faults in the *4-3 game as Ana broke back and then took a 5-4* lead. In those three games, Ana was on top form, looking to make the first strike, and hitting winners at will. Suddenly, Maria's victory looked in great danger as she served at *4-5 (0/30) after two winners by Ana!

But Ana's bubble burst just as suddenly, as the winners she'd been hitting turned into wild mishits (including that infamous dropshot into the bottom of the net at 15/30, and she pushed a horrendous forehand over the baseline on the next point), and she lost the first set 7-5.

The second set was more settled. Maria squandered two break-points in a long first game of five deuces, but games went with serve until 3-3. Then Ana cracked with a bad service-game in which Maria hit a stunning forehand pass-winner down the line en route to *4-3.

Maria held comfortably for 5-3*, Ana played two more horrendous points to go 0/30, and Maria set up three championship-points with a blazing short-angled off-forehand winner onto the sideline. She wasted the first two with near misses, but at 30/40 she came to the net, forcing Ana to hit a forehand pass wide.

Both girls gave very emotional speeches at the presentation-ceremony: Ana started crying as she thanked the fans in the stadium, and Maria seemed close to tears herself as she dedicated her victory to her coach Michael Joyce's mother, who died of cancer last year. Hers truly was the greatest speech of all time!

At Birmingham 2007, I observed several signs that Maria may have been losing her motivation. After reading her final Australian Open 2008 press-conference, I now realise that the death of Jane Joyce may have been a major factor in that.

It's always so sweet whenever Maria wins a Grand Slam, but the time when I felt all those bubbles of joy sweep through me was not when she won the final, but when she beat Henin in the quarter-finals. I thought at the beginning of the tournament that she had a nightmare-draw, but she came through it with flying colours, and after her brilliant passage to the semi-finals - without a Williams-sister in sight - her last two match-wins were very much expected.

Ana should be very pleased with and encouraged by her tournament: she was brilliant against Tathiana Garbin in the second round, and got her first win over a Williams-sister. I believe she will be the next first-time Women's Singles Grand Slam champion, but she's not quite there yet in terms of the mental strength, nerves, focus, intensity and ability to rise to the occasion that Maria has.

Virginia Wade: "Ivanović is a player who plays more on emotion and adrenaline, whereas I think Sharapova plays more on cold, hard, calculated determination."

I admit that Ana is a brilliant player, and that her beauty has improved this year (she has one of the best pony-tails on the Tour, and I love the way she presses her lips in as she waits to receive serve) - so why am I a demi-fan but not an Eternal Fan? I must confess that the thought has crossed my mind this month.

To induct a player into my Eternal Fanship, I require two things: Passion and Reason. Ana satisfies the Reason, but I just don't have the Passion to follow her career with that level of commitment. There's no better test of Passion than how I would feel about a player I like becoming a Grand Slam champion at the expense of Maria winning another one: I felt a very strong loyalty to Maria in this final, particularly when she looked in danger of losing the first set.


Read my full TV-report at
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/shara/australian_open2008.html


Ana's final press-conference:
http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/interviews/2008-01-26/200801261201327770396.html

--------------------------------
8. UK TV-alert: Transworld Sport
--------------------------------

Watch out for highlights of the Australian Open finals in next week's Transworld Sport. For those in the UK, Transworld Sport will be televised on Channel 4 on Sunday 3rd February from 06:35 to 07:25 GMT.

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sharapova_vaidisova_hantuchova/

andrewbroad
Feb 5th, 2008, 08:09 AM
(Transworld Sport may be televised in other countries, but the details in this message are specific to the UK.)


There are three points from the Australian Open final between Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanović in this week's Transworld Sport, which is repeated with sign-language at 03:25 GMT on {Thursday night/Friday morning} on Channel 4.

The tennis was 1 minute into Sunday's broadcast of Transworld Sport, and finished 6 minutes in, so I recommend 03:25 as a safe start-time for timer-record, and 03:36 as a safe stop-time (Transworld Sport has been known to start up to 5 minutes late). If you're only interested in the women's final, add 3 minutes to your start-time (03:28).

Sue Carpenter: "The women's final is billed as a battle of the beauties: between Russia's Maria Sharapova, and another Serbian: Ana Ivanović."

The points they showed:

* Maria serving 3-2: Maria hit a deep first serve down the middle (on the service-line), forcing Ana to bunt a slow backhand return; Maria hit a deep crosscourt backhand to force a short, weak backhand from Ana; Maria came to the net behind an off-forehand, forcing Ana to hoist a defensive one-handed backhand lob, which Maria dispatched with an off-forehand drive-volley winner back behind Ana.

Sue Carpenter: "Having been swept aside by Serena Williams in last year's final, Sharapova attempts to banish the memory of that defeat with some forceful all-court play."

* Maria serving 6-5 (40/0): Maria hit a first serve out wide, Ana a deep backhand return, and Maria a deep crosscourt forehand just inside the baseline, forcing Ana to bunt a crosscourt forehand half-volley just wide.

Sue Carpenter: "The 20-year-old's quest for a third Grand Slam title remains on course, as she wins the opening set."

* Ana serving 5-7 3-5 (30/40): First serve out wide; Maria hit a short-angled crosscourt backhand return, forcing Ana outside the tramlines to hit a short crosscourt backhand; Maria came to the net behind a backhand down the line, forcing Ana to hit a down-the-line forehand pass wide.

Sue Carpenter: "And with Ivanović struggling to find consistency on her forehand, Sharapova goes on to take a straight-sets victory. Sharapova adds the Australian Open title to the Wimbledon and US Open crowns she won in 2004 and 2006 respectively."

They showed a clip from Maria's press-conference, with her chin resting on her hands: "It's amazing. You know, sometimes you just - when you're putting the work in, it just seems so, so hard, and you never know when that work's gonna pay off, and when you're going through tough moments, you never know when... when you're going to have good moments, and I'm just so thankful that I... that I... that I got this one. Heh."

And from Ana's press-conference: "It's a little bit disappointing because I felt I had lots of chances in that first set, and... and didn't use them. But, you know, still, it's... it's a learning-experience for me."

Bruce Hammal: "Sharapova remains at #5 in the rankings, but looks poised to move higher after overcoming a serious shoulder-injury that caused her to miss large parts of last season.

"Following her second appearance in a Grand Slam final, Ivanović, who's regarded as the rising star of women's tennis, moves up to a career-high #2 in the world behind Justine Henin."


Jonathan Overend for BBC Sport: "Maria Sharapova was the player of the tournament. Her improved movement, her increased mobility at the net and the devastation caused by her backhand crosscourt were the submissions of the judges. Well, me."

--
Dr. Andrew Broad
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sharapova_vaidisova_hantuchova/

andrewbroad
Jan 14th, 2009, 12:15 AM
===============
AUSTRALIAN OPEN (Melbourne, Australia; outdoor hard (Plexicushion); Major)
=============== http://2008.australianopen.com/
Semi-final (Thursday 24th January 2008)
----------

Nice winner, nice loser:
+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [4,DF] d. DANIELA HANTUCHOVÁ [9,EF], 0-6 6-3 6-4

I have uploaded to my website my new TV-report of this match, which I recently acquired on DVD from Tennis Videos International (http://www.users.bigpond.com/tennisvideos1/).

I have written up a detailed description of each and every point, and also transcribed parts of the commentary, and the players' on-court interviews before and after the match.

My full TV-report is at:
http://geocities.com/andrewbroad/tennis/hantu/australian_open2008.html

--
Dr. Andrew Broad