A year ago it was a Grand Slam match against Victoria Azarenka which indicated how far Ana Ivanovic has fallen, but now the pair’s fourth US Open round meeting can show her improvement.
Ivanovic lost 6-1, 6-0 to Azarenka in the fourth round at Wimbledon last year, but the former world No. 1 has since rediscovered some of her hunger.
She took Azarenka to three sets in the semi-final of a tournament in Carlsbad last month, and has made it through to the fourth round of a Slam for the third time this year. She is still likely to lose to Azarenka again, but prolonging the match is key to our US Open treble from the women’s side of the draw.
This line seems a little low giving Ivanovic’s recent improvement and that 25-game tussle in Carlsbad earlier this month. Their only other meeting on a hard court saw the Serb win in three sets in Cincinnati in 2010, and so whilst world No. 2 Azarenka’s formidable 28-1 record on the hard stuff this year shouldn’t suffer a setback, she could have to work hard for her win.
The rise of Romania’s Simona Halep continued with a ruthless 6-1, 6-0 victory over Maria Kirilenko in the last round, a result which ensured that the rapidly emerging 21-year-old hasn’t lost a set in New York since going one down to Heather Watson in her first round. Only Serena Williams has beaten her in her last 12 matches, and form like that should see her have the edge over Flavia Panetta.
Both of Daniela Hantuchova’s career victories over Alison Riske came in the slightly different surroundings of a grass court event in Birmingham, but the Slovakian can grab a third and complete a remarkable turnaround having lost in the first round of her previous five Grand Slams. American Riske is in the fourth round of her home Slam for the first time, and could see the occasion get to her against her more experienced opponent.
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