x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

In-form Venus feels sorry for the unlucky Ivanovic

Venus Williams was given an easy passage into the quarter-finals when Ana Ivanovic retired with a groin injury in the second set of their match.

Ana Ivanovic was in tears as she congratulated Venus Williams after her retirement due to a thigh injury.
Ana Ivanovic was in tears as she congratulated Venus Williams after her retirement due to a thigh injury.

LONDON // A depressing year for Ana Ivanovic ended how it had begun with the Serb making a tearful exit from Wimbledon. A slump in the wake of her 2008 French Open win led to a third-round departure last year and injury that has blighted her career since returned to haunt her. Ivanovic would probably have lost anyway to the holder Venus Williams, who had trounced her in the opening set of their Court One encounter but it was still a sad way for her challenge to end after such an encouraging first week of the championships. "I am really disappointed," said Ivanovic after being forced to shake hands with Venus with the score at 6-1, 0-1. "I just felt a sharp pain on my inner [left] thigh and I couldn't stand on my leg after that." She underwent the maximum length of treatment after sustaining the latest in her series of injuries and tried to play on for a couple of points, winning them to hold serve, but realised it was going to be impossible to continue, especially against a player as rampant as the impressive Venus. Forcing back the returning tears, Ivanovic added: "It's so frustrating because I felt good out there. I was playing better each match. I just thought it was a great challenge for me today to play against someone like Venus." The defending champion, homing threateningly in on a sixth title, could not remember if anybody had defaulted against her before and was full of sympathy. "I normally just pay attention to what's going on, on my side of the net. But today I felt really sad for her actually. She was really upset. "This is Wimbledon. It's the last place you want to have an injury that you can't overcome. So I'm wishing her a lot of luck in her recovery." Venus, who had romped through the first five games against Ivanovic, is satisfied with her form going into today's quarter-final against Poland's Agnieska Radwanska, a 6-4, 7-5 winner over the American qualifier Melanie Oudin. "Aggressive tennis is rewarded on this surface and that's the way I'm thinking," she said. Few who have witnessed the first seven days of women's action would rule out a repeat of last year's final between Venus and her younger sister Serena. Neither has dropped a set yet and Serena has arguably been more upbeat about her chances of regaining a title she won for the second time in 2003 than Venus has been about retaining it. Daniela Hantuchova, the elegant Slovakian, offered only token resistance to the powerful American before being swept aside 6-3, 6-1 in 56 minutes but the second seed was not satisfied. "I definitely need to step it up, play better, really start playing some great tennis, or go home," she said. "And I don't want to go home, so I feel like I'm just getting more serious. The fact that I actually know I can get to a higher level is good for me."

wjohnson@thenational.ae