Ekatarina Makarova Upsets Ana Ivanovic, but All Is Not Lost for the Serb

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Ekatarina Makarova Upsets Ana Ivanovic, but All Is Not Lost for the Serb
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic, who had since fallen off the map, saw her fall from grace realized as she walked off of the court in tears after losing in the second round of the Australian Open just last season. 

While playing the 49th-ranked Ekaterina Makarova of Russia and finding herself down three break points while at 4-3 in the third set, the 19th-seeded Serb must of been haunted by memories of last year's early exit.

Though Ivanovic was able to work her way out of that 40-0 hole with a combination of winners and unforced errors from Makarova, she would later face several match points, and it was during those points that Ivanovic circa 2008 appeared. 

In 2008, Ivanovic was on top of the world after having made the final of the Australian Open and winning the French Open, and it was after that championship that the wheels came off for the Serb. 

Serving issues became more frequent, as her ball toss became inconsistent and her confidence and composure on court began to wane as a result. 

After struggling with injuries and a bevy of shocking exits in major tournaments, Ivanovic finally seemed to be working her way back at the end of last season when she won in both Linz and Bali. 

This season also started on a positive note for Ivanovic, as she began the season with a new fitness regimen, which resulted in her being 11 pounds lighter and fitter than ever. She also played well at the Hopman Cup. A stomach injury was a minor setback, but it wasn't going to stop the Serb from playing in Melbourne. 

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Against Makarova, however, Ivanovic was perhaps the most impressive she has been since her glory days of 2008. Sure, she lost the match, but the guts and grit that she showed during the big points was a 180 from the days she would begin crying on court before she had even lost the match. 

This time, Ivanovic did not crumble. In fact, she thrived. 

Even when her ball toss went haywire in the third set, she simply went with it and crushed forehand winners to make up for it. 

Today, she was simply outdone by Makarova, who played one of the best matches of her career. 

Ivanovic's serving demons are definitely still with her, but these days, she knows how to work through them. While her game may not be what it was in 2008, her mental strength is back.

And in the women's game, which is known more for emotional breakdowns and epic collapses, mental strength can win you matches. 

Today may not have been a victory, but for a 23-year-old who is working her way back to the top, there are many positives to take away from this match. 

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