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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Injury frustrates tearful Ivanovic

Photo Titled Ivanovic retires
Ana Ivanovic retires from her 4th round match against Venus Williams because of injury.

It is not easy to extract the positives from a 53-minute thrashing and an injury-enforced retirement, but Ana Ivanovic was doing her very best. Poor Ivanovic had managed to win just two games against Venus Williams when at 6-1, 0-1, she had to limp back to the locker room. Her Wimbledon was over. And she was in floods of tears.

Unfortunately for her, a player’s life is not all about tennis and training and there are other duties to be fulfilled before she can go home and collect her thoughts. So, having sobbed uncontrollably on No.1 Court in full view of the television cameras, she had to compose herself and face the world’s press and explain herself to them.

Bravely, she just about held it together as she spoke to the international press but by the time they had gone and she was left alone to talk to the Serbian journalists, she could contain herself no more and, again, she dissolved into tears. As disappointments go, this one ranked as one of the worst she had had to endure.

Ivanovic had had her chances, briefly, in the opening game as she held three break points, but the moment did not last. When that game escaped her, the match was pretty much one-way traffic as the champion ran away with the first set.

Then, in the opening game of the second set, Ivanovic suddenly felt a sharp pain in her thigh. She called for the trainer. She tried to play on but once that first game was over, she knew the game was up.

“I didn't feel anything up until that point,” she said more than an hour after the match and still looking red-eyed. “Over the past few days I felt muscle tightness, but that was normal after playing so much on the grass.

“Just when I was serving 30‑40 down in that first game, and after my first serve when I landed I just felt a sharp pain on my inner thigh and I couldn't step on my leg ever since.”

It had all been so different on Saturday. Then she had rushed past Samantha Stosur to book her appointment in the fourth round and felt that, at last, her game and her confidence were on the up. Back with her old coach, Sven Groeneveld, and working with Darren Cahill, she was feeling more comfortable on court and, consequently, her thumping ground strokes were beginning to find their mark again.

Ever since she won the French Open and claimed the number one ranking last year, Ivanovic has been struggling. It took her a lifetime to get to the top but once she got there, she was suddenly felled by vertigo. It is a long way down from the top spot and the thought of that drop paralysed her.

But drop she did and now, as the world’s 12th best player, she feels a little freer to play her game and under a little less pressure to produce the big results. Finally, Ivanovic was happy. And then her leg started to hurt and her world caved in again.

“Even though it was 6‑1, I still thought it was pretty close,” she said, gamely. “She played really well. She wasn't missing much. But, yeah, I just felt like maybe I should have had a fair chance to fight back.

“Obviously it's very disappointing especially [since] I felt my form was getting better and better. So, yeah, it's really frustrating.”

By this point, she was almost in tears again. A decent performance against Williams would have done wonders for her confidence and would have shown her rivals that she was getting back to something like her best. Instead she must wait to see what the doctors say about her injury – she was still waiting to undergo some tests – before she can plan the rest of her summer.

“I thought I had some chances in the first game of the first set,” she said. “It’s just frustrating because, like I said, I felt good out there. I was playing better each match. I just thought it was great challenge for me today to play against someone like Venus. And it’s just disappointing I didn't get the right chance to finish the match.”

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