Tue, Aug 14, 2007 - Page 18 News List

Ivanovic beats Petrova in East West Bank Classic


Ana Ivanovic of Serbia returns a shot to Nadia Petrova of Russia during the final at the East West Bank Classic at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, on Sunday. Ivanovic won 7-5, 6-4.


Ana Ivanovic of Serbia hit 31 winners, including 23 off her powerful forehand, to beat Russia's Nadia Petrova 7-5, 6-4 to win the East West Bank Classic on Sunday.

Ivanovic completed a big day for Serbian tennis by winning her second tournament of the year. Fellow Serb Novak Djokovic upset world No. 1 Roger Federer in three sets to win the Rogers Cup title in Montreal.

"I saw some of his match," she said. "He played amazing tennis, so I was motivated to do the same thing."

Ivanovic and Djokovic have been friends for about 14 years. They met as 4-year-olds at his parents' mountaintop restaurant in Belgrade. Growing up, they practiced together and played hide and seek.

"I hated when I had to search for him because I was scared," she said. "We never dreamed we could play Grand Slams at the same level. It's nice to know someone for so long. I love spending time with him."

That includes sharing dinner when their tournament paths cross, but there is no romance going on.

"We are really good friends, nothing more than that," she said.

A year ago, Ivanovic was ranked 19th. Yesterday, she was projected to rise one spot to a career-high fourth in the WTA Tour rankings. In between, the 19-year-old was the runner-up at the French Open and a semi-finalist at Wimbledon this year.

Ivanovic closed out the one-and-a-half-hour match by serving a love game, punctuated by an ace into the outside corner of the service box, one of four she had. She was broken just once after saving four break points in her first service game of the match.

She took the first set with a crosscourt forehand winner that was out of Petrova's reach.

Ivanovic led 4-2 in the second set before Petrova's forehand volley winner left the Russian trailing 5-4. Petrova hit 19 winners in the match, which were offset by 22 unforced errors.

Ivanovic dropped one set in five matches in Carson -- against Serb rival Jelena Jankovic in the semi-finals.

Petrova's coach had advised the 25-year-old Russian to pull Ivanovic wide by hitting to her backhand, making it harder for the Serb to hit her forehand on the run.

It didn't work.

"She just rips it off without even thinking," Petrova said. "Sometimes I think she didn't even know where it was going. It's the best forehand by far on tour."

Petrova advanced to the final when top-seeded Maria Sharapova defaulted because of a lower left leg strain on Saturday night.

Petrova, ranked ninth in the world, hasn't won a title since February.

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