She was the sport’s glamourised world No.1 in 2008, but since then the bubbly Serb has faced a growing game of power hitters on the tennis court. In 2010, she dropped as low as No.64 in the rankings, only to climb back to No.13 to finish the 2012 season.
Strengths: Ivanovic’s bread and butter shot is what won her the French Open in 2009: her forehand. The 25 year old can strike one of the meanest and most efficient balls on the pro tour, and her game comes together when she’s utilising her biggest stroke to her advantage. When the forehand is on, the rest of Ivanovic’s game flows aptly behind it.
Weaknesses: There is still weakness to be found in Ivanovic’s movement, which can be second-class when she’s scrambling. During the course of the 2012 season, tennis insiders watched as the Serb noticeably lost body weight, leaving many to question whether she’ll be able to continue to hit the ball with the same kind of oomph she has in the past. An attackable second serve leaves her vulnerable as well.
Opportunities: After winning the French Open in 2009, Ivanovic went 17 major tournaments without making the quarterfinals, a streak she finally broke at the US Open in 2012. While she was a finalist in Melbourne in 2008, she hasn’t been past the fourth round since then, meaning she can only build on her fourth round appearance from a year ago. While many have been waiting to see flashes of the old Ana in full flight again, it’ll take all the pieces of the puzzle to come together in order to beat a higher-ranked player.
Threats: Sans a Fed Cup win over Petra Kvitova in November, Ivanovic didn’t register any wins over players ranked higher than her following her run to the Indian Wells semifinals in early March. Bigger hitting girls know what to do against Ana: simply out hit her. And those who play the backboard game usually try to force her into errors. What Ivanovic has to do is get over the mental hump she’s faced since falling from her perch as No.1.
Mary Joe Fernandez, former world No. 4 and tennis analyst:
I thought there were moments where the old Ana was back in 2012 and she might have a breakthrough. But she still needs to have that one big result, that one big win to catapult her back to the top of the game. She has a great game – a huge forehand. She’s started to play to her strengths more recently, which has helped her. The game is there, but her fall from the top was due to her getting away from running around and using her forehand. With her toss better, she can serve pretty hard. If she’s looking to move around the ball and playing smart, she’s right there.