By Chris Oddo | Friday, August 1, 2014
Serena Williams dug in and gutted out a confidence building victory on Friday, taking down Ana Ivanovic in three sets in Stanford.
Photo Source: AFP
Wanting to rid the taste of poor performances at all three majors this season, Serena Williams took a small yet meaningful step in the right direction by posting a 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 decision over recently anointed top ten member Ana Ivanovic on Friday night at the Bank of the West Classic.
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It wasn’t without complications, as Williams was outplayed in the opener by a high-flying Ivanovic, who consistently made her biggest swings count in the form of return winners and scorched groundstrokes that kept Serena of balance.
“This surface is a little fast so she really was just hitting a lot of shots,” said Williams, “but I just fought it and stayed in there.”
As the second set progressed, the two-time Stanford champion rediscovered her sense of timing on the fast hard courts and began to take the ball earlier and drive it with more consistency.
“The adjustments are weird,” said Williams of making the transition from the grass to hard courts. “You have to see faster, you have to move faster, you have to turn faster.”
Williams broke instantly to start the second set, and raced out to 5-2 lead at which time Ivanovic had to see the trainer for an injury to her right hip. Favoring the injury, Ivanovic found a way to hold serve and then had a small 15-30 window with Williams serving for the set at 5-3, but could not capitalize.
Unlike the first two sets, which were relatively one-sided, the third set was a wild ride with momentum swings, tense moments and multiple lead changes.
Ivanovic, wobbling—bad hip and all—in the early moments of the decider, suddenly summoned her best tennis to reel off three straight game for a 4-3 lead. Williams appeared to be close to tears with the match threatening to slip away from her, but she rallied ferociously, producing two sparkling games to earn a chance to serve for the match.
She would fail on her first opportunity, break back in the next game, and finally, as the match neared the two hour mark, close out the tremulous yet satisfying victory.
Williams will face Andrea Petkovic in Saturday’s first semifinal. Petkovic took out Venus Williams in three sets earlier on Friday.
Despite the loss, Ivanovic will rank in the WTA’s top ten on Monday for the first time since 2009.
Williams’ victory is her 11th consecutive win at the Bank of the West Classic. She won the title in 2011 and 2012 and did not compete last year.
Petkovic, 26, is making her first appearance in Stanford.
Angelique Kerber and Varvara Lepchenko will meet in Saturday’s second semifinal. Kerber is also making her first appearance at the event.