Ana Ivanovic may be ranked as the 14th-best player in the world, but nobody expected her to truly challenge Serena Williams.
Williams was on a roll, having won 25 straight matches, including a third-round victory over Daniela Hantuchova that moved her past Margaret Court for the most wins at this tournament in the open era. But Ivanovic did the unthinkable and took down the legend 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.
It seemed all but over when Williams won the first set—after all, she was 51-1 when she won the first set at the Australian Open. We can update that stat to read 51-2.
Ivanovic had a streak of her own entering the Grand Slam, winning the tuneup tournament in New Zealand and playing a terrific match against Sam Stosur in the third round.
Despite that, it seemed highly improbable that she could be anything more than a speed bump to Williams, who was aiming for her sixth Australian Open title. Ivanovic had never taken a set from Williams in their previous four meetings.
But the fifth time was the charm:
Ana Ivanovic breaks for a second time to take her 1st ever set off Serena Williams & level the match at 4-6 6-3. Predictions? #AusOpen— Sky Sports Tennis (@SkySportsTennis) January 19, 2014
The service game has been Williams’ strength during her run of dominance, but it was Ivanovic who held the advantage in this encounter.
|Player||First Serve Pts Won||Second Serve Pts Won||Return Winners|
Williams still managed to rack up 13 aces, but Ivanovic dominated the return game and handled Williams’ serve with relative ease en route to 16 return winners.
Williams was clearly rattled by the sight of an opponent who was unfazed by her power serve, and her frustration nearly boiled over:
It was shocking to see Williams pushed to the brink this early in a major tournament, and she never looked comfortable in the final set.
Ivanovic was the best player on the court, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t get her share of favorable bounces:
She looked like the more confident player in the third set, and it was clearly a memorable victory for her. Before the match, she admitted to Sports Illustrated that it would be a challenge to beat Williams:
Serena is on top of the game for so long now. She’s someone we admire actually. It’s going to be very tough task. But I look forward to that challenge. I’ve been playing some good tennis. It’s going to be nice test to see where I’m at.
Ivanovic advances to a quarterfinal matchup against Canada's Eugenie Bouchard, the No. 30 seed. The 19-year-old is in for a challenging match; Ivanovic is rolling right now and will be a tough out for anybody.