What Serena Williams' Loss to Ana Ivanovic Means for French Open

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IJanuary 18, 2014

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 03:  Serena Williams of the USA wipes sweat off her face in her match against Maria Sharapova of Russia during day six of the 2014 Brisbane International at Queensland Tennis Centre on January 3, 2014 in Brisbane, Australia.  (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Serena Williams came up short in her bid to win a sixth Australian Open title in 2014, but the defending French Open champion should still be considered the favorite ahead of the season's second Slam at Roland Garros.

For the third straight year, Williams suffered a gut-wrenching defeat in Melbourne, losing to Ana Ivanovic, 6-4, 3-6, 3-6, in the fourth round.

SportsCenter had the news via Twitter on January 19:

Down goes Serena! Ana Ivanovic rallies after losing the first set to take down World No. 1 Serena Williams in the Australian Open!

However, despite the disappointment, the world No. 1 has proven time and again that no one bounces back better. And given that she had won four of the past six Grand Slams coming into Australia, she and her team will move forward with plenty of confidence, per BBC Sport on Twitter:

In 2012, Williams failed to reach the quarterfinals at both the Aussie Open and French Open but recovered to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open that season. Just last year, the 32-year-old rebounded from an upset loss to Sloane Stephens in Australia to win her first French Open crown since 2002.

Plus, given Williams' unrivaled level of experience and supreme focus, it would be foolish to count her out, especially following her brilliant clay-court run in 2013.

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 08:  Serena Williams of United States of America celebrates match point in her Women's Singles Final match against Maria Sharapova of Russia  during day fourteen of French Open at Roland Garros on June 8, 2013 in Paris, France.  (Phot
Julian Finney/Getty Images

In addition to winning a Slam in Paris, Williams won clay-court tournaments in Charleston, S.C., Madrid and Rome. Williams beat Maria Sharapova in straight sets in the final in Madrid and knocked off Victoria Azarenka in straight sets one week later in the Rome final.

Until results prove otherwise, Williams has the edge over women's tennis' elite on clay.

And despite her age, Williams looks stronger, faster and healthier than ever. After winning her 17th career Grand Slam title at the 2013 U.S. Open, the superstar said that she felt better than she had in "years," per WTATennis.com:

I've never felt better. I feel great. I feel really fit. I can play a tournament like this, singles, doubles, with tough, tough schedules. For the most part, I felt really good. I haven't felt like this in a number of years. I'm excited about the possibilities. I just want to keep playing and do the best that I can.

Although it's been a few months, Williams' early-season dominance in Brisbane confirmed suspicions that she's every bit as fit and motivated as she was in 2013.

While the 2014 French Open is still months away, you can bet this loss in Australia will serve as motivation for the upcoming clay-court season, and Williams will enter Roland Garros with every intention of successfully defending her crown.

 

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