After a resurgence last year, former world no. 1 Ana Ivanovic started the 2015 season with a run to the Brisbane final – before faltering once more, and struggling along until a surprise run to the French Open semi-finals. While she suffered an upset loss to in-form Lucie Safarova on that stage, it at least prompted her season into rise-and-fall mode instead of its previous negative plateau. From here, she picked up a couple of early losses, followed by a couple of later losses to decent players, followed by a first round US Open loss – albeit in three sets to a cruel opening draw of former Slam finalist Dominika Cibulkova.
But it's up to Camila Giorgi to decide if that latest loss will be the beginning of another fall in form for Ana Ivanovic. A 4-6 7-6(3) 6-3 win over Caroline Garcia has confirmed the Italian as no. 2 seed Ivanovic's opening opponent.
Although Ana will probably be relieved to have avoided facing nemesis Garcia, she will by no means take Camila lightly. The two have never played each other, and the 23-year-old Giorgi – an inconsistent talent who has, in the past, been entangled in controversy – has some sharp weapons and a keen eye, not to mention wins over top players this year. She also won her first WTA title in June.
With Ivanovic's own struggles and inconsistency to consider, a surprise here seems highly possible. But Ivanovic is, after all, an elite player, who was an inch away from victory against Dominika Cibulkova in New York, and lost to Serena Williams in three sets in Cincinnati. You have to be doing something right to be seeded no. 2 at a Premier level event.
And let us recall that the Serbian did not just simply claim ultimate triumph here in Tokyo last year, but accomplished it by taking down four high calibre players in Victoria Azarenka, Lucie Safarova, Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki in quick, straight-setted succession.
That says something about how comfortable she feels playing on these courts. And Camila Giorgi, who has played just one tournament here in the past and lost in round one, will need to summon up some serious magic if she wants to upend the world no. 12.
Ana Ivanovic and Camila Giorgi will face off on Thursday in Tokyo at approximately 7.30pm local time (11.30 am BST).
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