Thu, Jan 08, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Ivanovic rallies to advance in Brisbane

STRUGGLES Ana Ivanovic entered the quarters in Brisbane, while Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Lu Yen-hsun lost valiant battles against Dinara Safina and Marat Safin in Auckland


France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga returns a shot against Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen at the Brisbane International tennis tournament in Brisbane, Australia, yesterday.


Facing two match points and a shock elimination, Ana Ivanovic suddenly rediscovered her game yesterday to hold off Italian Roberta Vinci and reach the Brisbane International quarter-finals.

Top-seeded Ivanovic advanced 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-1 over the 82nd-ranked Vinci and next faces former No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo, who endured a marathon three-set win over fellow Frenchwoman Julie Coin.

Ivanovic was down a set and gave Vinci double matchpoint at 15-40 in the 10th game of the second.

The 21-year-old Serb put everything into her serve and ground strokes and forced enough errors from Vinci to stay in the game.

She pulled back to 5-5, broke Vinci and then served out to love, leveling at a set apiece.

She then won nine of the first 10 points to set the tone for the 27-minute deciding set, racing to a 5-0 lead.

Ivanovic, who spent 12 weeks at No. 1 last season, also struggled at times in her first-round win over Petra Kvitova — her first match of the season — and was pushed to the wire by Vinci, a qualifier for the main draw.

She hadn’t dropped a set in two previous wins over the Italian.

But that streak was soon ended. After fending off four set points in the ninth game of the opening set, then recovering a break, Ivanovic was outplayed in the tiebreaker.

Ivanovic, who lost the final of the Australian Open to Maria Sharapova last year and then won the French Open, was teetering on being the second major casualty of the inaugural Brisbane tournament.

Men’s top seed Novak Djokovic, also a Serb, was bundled out in the first round.

Instead, she’ll meet 2006 Australian Open and Wimbledon champion Mauresmo in Pat Rafter Arena today.

Mauresmo recovered from 2-5 down in the third set to beat Coin 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (11) in her longest ever tour match.

The 29-year-old Mauresmo saved three match points and need five of her own in the three-hour, 14-minute second-round win over 95th-ranked Coin, who only got a place in draw when Maria Kirilenko pulled out.

“I felt it was long, so long,” said Mauresmo, whose previous longest match in 13 years on tour was 3:07 in her win over Mary Pierce at the WTA Championships final in 2005. “It’s tough. I’m tight everywhere. A lot of work for my physio.”

Mauresmo double-faulted on her first match point at 6-4 in the tiebreaker. She had served for the first set at 5-4, but was broken twice.

In the end, fifth-seeded Mau­resmo converted five of her 20 breakpoint chances and fended off 11 of 15 she faced.

In an earlier second-round match, Italy’s Sara Errani beat Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-3.

On the men’s side, Ernests Gulbis lost 6-3, 6-4 to Paul-Henri Mathieu a day after upsetting top-seeded Djokovic.

Mathieu was one of three Frenchman advancing. No. 6-ranked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was broken three times in the first set but recovered to beat Jarkko Nieminen of Finland 0-6, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (5) and set up a quarter-final with another Frenchman, seventh-seeded Richard Gasquet.

Florent Serra beat Austria’s Jurgen Melzer 6-4, 6-3.

Second-seeded Tsonga, who lost last year’s Australian Open final to Djokovic, found his range with his powerful forehand in the second and third sets and overturned the result of his only previous match with Nieminen — a loss in the semi-finals at Adelaide last year.

Third-seeded Fernando Verdasco of Spain beat Croatia’s Mario Ancic 6-2, 6-3.

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