x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Dubai Tennis Championships: Ana Ivanovic takes first step back to top

The former world number one has clawed her way back up the rankings, while Marion Bartoli sets up clash with Serena Williams after a battle against Klara Zakopalova.

Marion Bartoli will now play Serena Williams.
Marion Bartoli will now play Serena Williams.

DUBAI // Ana Ivanovic has set her sights returning to the top 10 this year and finding the consistency that will again make her a contender at the grand slams.

The winner of the 2008 French Open and a former world No 1, Ivanovic's struggle with her confidence, injuries and an upper respiratory tract infection saw her slip down to No 64 in 2010.

The Serbian has recovered from those traumatic times though and wants to improve on her current world ranking of No 13.

"I really want to, you know, break into top 10 again," Ivanovic said after booking her place in the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships with a 6-3, 7-6 win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

"I really feel I have the game, but I just haven't been consistent enough, especially against the top players. I just need to go through these big matches and get a few wins under my belt.

"Last week [in Doha], I really felt I pushed [Agnieszka] Radwanska, and I had a lot of chances.

"This is also a process and I have been working hard in a few different areas. Sometimes you have to sacrifice certain things, but I think in the long run it pays off."

The lack of consistency was evident last night as Ivanovic, struggling with a sore shoulder, squandered a 4-0 lead in the second set and allowed Pavlyuchenkova to force a tiebreak, where she again took a 4-1 lead before the Russian fought back to level at 4-4.

"She really started striking the ball a lot deeper and harder when she had her back against the wall towards the end of the second set," Ivanovic said.

"But I'm really happy I managed to stay in that match and finish in two. It really was a good effort, I think."

Earlier, Marion Bartoli recovered from being a set down to beat Klara Zakopalova 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 to land a second-round clash with the world No 1 Serena Williams.

"The way I fought, the way I stay focused, the way I tried my hardest on every single ball, I think that's definitely a plus," Bartoli said after the win.

"It [the match against Williams] is going to be a very hard test, of course, but it will show me where I am and where I need to improve.

"For now, I really want to enjoy the way I did today, and I'm proud of the way I focused myself on the court.

"No matter what happens against Serena, I will just remember the way I fought today, and I think I'm on the right track."