Lost Girl Found?
Ana Ivanovic, one of the women's game's lost former Nos. 1, had her first big win since May in her first-round match in Cincinnati. The former No. 1, who has fallen to No. 62 in the world, battled back from 6-2, 5-3 down to defeat No. 12 Victoria Azarenka. A week ago, Azarenka won the title in Stanford, defeating Maria Sharapova in the final. Ivanovic, meanwhile, needed a wild card to enter the event and was denied direct entry into next week's tournament in Montreal, where she's a past champion.
At just two weeks out from the U.S. Open, it's a good time for the Serb to get her confidence up. Plus, it'd be nice for her to get a good result to show the Montreal tournament directors just what they passed up. A comeback over a quality opponent may have been just the kind of win Ivanovic needed.
There's been a lot of talk about David Nalbandian's return to threat status after his win in Washington on Sunday, but what about the guy he beat? Remember when Marcos Baghdatis first wowed the crowd, at the Australian Open in 2006? He defeated Andy Roddick, Ivan Ljubicic and his opponent on Sunday, Nalbandian, to reach the final, and all the while he lit up the stadium with his beaming smile and positive energy. Later that year, he reached the Wimbledon semifinals. Whether due to lack of fitness or desire or whatever else, he has underachieved since.
He's been able to ride spectator support and his excellent shot-making to runs in the past, but can a guy like Baghdatis still break through at this point? The big threats for the past two seasons haven't been counter-punching baseline scramblers, such as Baghdatis, Nikolay Davydenko and Lleyton Hewitt, but big-serving giants who can hit pancake-flat ground strokes at will, such as Juan Martin del Potro, Robin Soderling and Tomas Berdych.
Rafael Nadal, with his good-but-not-great serve and grinding game, seems to be the exception to the rule. But he's the exception to a lot of rules, no?