x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Sweet revenge for Ivanovic

Ana Ivanovic moves into the last 16 of the Dubai Tennis Championship after beating the Russian Alisa Kleybanova 7-5, 6-4.

Ana Ivanovic is hoping that the Dubai Tennis Championships can be the event that reignites her dazzling form of 2008 that saw her reach No 1 in the world.
Ana Ivanovic is hoping that the Dubai Tennis Championships can be the event that reignites her dazzling form of 2008 that saw her reach No 1 in the world.

DUBAI // A nervous Ana Ivanovic avenged her recent Australian Open defeat by Russia's Alisa Kleybanova to move into the last 16 of the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championship on a day when three other seeds were shown the exit door. Ivanovic, the Serbian who has declined from top of the world rankings after winning the French Open last summer to eighth coming into this prestigious US$2million (Dh7.36m) event, was delighted to deal efficiently with a tough first opponent here. Seeking to re-establish herself as a leading figure in women's tennis, Ivanovic, who suffered a series of embarrassing defeats during an injury-hit second half of last year, said after securing a 7-5, 6-4 victory: "I was a bit nervous but I believed in my game out there." The revenge win over Kleybanova keeps Ivanovic on course for what looks a tantalising quarter-final meeting with Serena Williams, the recently-crowned Australian Open champion and world No 1. Ivanovic has not been well favoured by the draw for this tournament which has attracted all of the world's top 10 women players. If she gets past the younger of the two Williams sisters on Thursday then in all probability she will meet the elder Californian Venus in the semi-finals. Ivanovic was particularly pleased with the way she served last night after what she described as intensive training sessions with her new coach Craig Kardon. She said she intends to build on that when she meets either Urszula Radwanska, of Poland, or France's Camille Pin tomorrow. Another crowd favourite on view last night was Sania Mirza, who was given a wild-card entry into this 56-woman tournament to the delight of the large Indian expat community in the UAE. Mirza, beaten by Russia's Vera Zvonareva in the final of the Pattaya Open in Thailand on Sunday, was cheered all the way to an impressive 7-5, 6-2 win over Russia's Ekaterina Makarova. Mirza now plays the 16th-seeded Estonian Kaia Kanepi with the winner likely to face the former world No 1 Jelena Jankovic in the third round. wjohnson@thenational.ae