There haven’t been too many matches between Serena Williams and Ana Ivanovic over the years, but the Serbian finally beat the World’s number one in their fourth round match of the 2014 Australian Open, beating the American 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Despite being a five-time winner in Melbourne and winning four of the last six grand slam tournaments she’s been in, Serena Williams always has a hard time in Australia. She hasn’t won the title there since 2010, missing the tournament in 2011, going out in the fourth round in 2012 and making it to the quarterfinals in 2013. Maybe it’s the heat, or maybe it’s the beginning of the season, with Williams getting hotter a bit later in the year. Seeing her dropped so early in the tournament is a surprise, but possibly not that big of a shock as it is for some.
Serena Williams is undefeated since August, going 78-4 in 2013. She was on a 25-game winning streak going into her match with Ivanovic. She took the first set in this one: In the previous 52 matches she’d won in the first set, she won 51 one of them. Ana Ivanovic, statistically, shouldn’t have stood a chance to win this one. And even though Ivanovic had never won a set against Williams in their previous meetings (last one in the 2012 US Open), the feeling of surprise was in the air from the first set onward.
Williams didn’t move well, sounding louder and heavier with every moment that passed. She lunged at balls instead of hitting them, and was more and more out of position while Ivanovic seemed graceful and smooth, not letting the conditions get to her. When Williams resorts only to her power and has nothing else to offer in a game, you know that something is wrong, and even though it’s been such a rarity to see her lose over the last six months.
Was it the back problem? Williams didn’t try to make any excuses. According to her, she was simply outplayed by Ivanovic, who has seen so few moments of greatness since taking the Tennis world by storm in 2008, when she won the Roland Garros and reached the Australian Open final. Since that year she’s been only to one grand slam quarterfinal (last year at the US Open), but she was the 14th seed going into Melbourne this time, which should have at least given her a fighting chance, which she took with both hands.