Vera Maintains The Momentum
DOHA, Qatar - The last time they played it was all over in about an hour, but today's round robin match at the Sony Ericsson Championships between Ana Ivanovic and Vera Zvonareva could not have been more different. In the final at Linz 10 days Ivanovic crushed her Russian opponent 62 61 to lift the trophy; in Doha this evening it would be Zvonareva who made the better start and ultimately held her nerve to prevail 63 67(5) 64 in nearly two-and-a-half hours.
No.8 seed Zvonareva picked up were she left off against Svetlana Kuznetsova on Tuesday, breaking Ivanovic in the second game of the match with the assistance of a pair of Serbian double faults. Although Ivanovic retaliated in the very next game to put proceedings back on serve, Zvonareva broke her opponent twice more to run away with the opener.
Ivanovic took a medical time out in the second set - it was later revealed she is suffering from a virus - having felt breathless and dizzy during her match against Jelena Jankovic yesterday. Even so, the No.4 seed fought valiantly to keep the contest alive, building a 3-0 lead and holding on for 5-2.
The advantage still only amounted to a solitary break, however, and Zvonareva stole it back as part of a three game surge that saw her draw level and take the set to a tie-break. There, it was Ivanovic who scored the first mini-break, and although Zvonareva again caught her opponent, the Serb took the match to the decider.
It would prove to be a temporary reprieve, as Zvonareva broke her ailing opponent early in the third set. Although the Russian revealed her tension when serving for the match at 5-3, she sealed the win in the next game, on her third match point, when server Ivanovic dumped a forehand in the net.
"Ana is a fighter, she never gives up," said Zvonareva, who now owns two wins from two matches in the round robin stage of the event. "So I had to concentrate on myself at the end of that match, think about my game and not think about what was going on on the other side. I did that well."
While Zvonareva is well placed to advance to the elimination semifinals with one White Group match to go, against top seed Jelena Jankovic, the outlook for Ivanovic, who lost to her compatriot on Day 1, is less rosy.
"I gave my hundred percent today, but she played well," said Ivanovic, who was reluctant to complain about her health but admitted a sore throat and its side effects were a factor. "It gives me some confidence, feeling like this but almost coming back, it's a positive thing.
"I think I can still qualify for the semis," she added, "but obviously the chances are very slim. A miracle has to happen. But for me it's a priority now to get better. Luckily I have the day off tomorrow, so hopefully I can."