The Serbs dominated professional tennis this weekend as Ana Ivanovic and Novak Djokovic both won titles.
Ana Ivanovic knew that Novak Djokovic had already beaten Roger Federer before she took the court for the final here at the East West Bank Classic just south of Los Angeles. “I was motivated to do the same thing,” she said and she did exactly that.
Except for failing to serve out the first set at 5-4, Ivanovic had few problems winning a straight set victory over Nadia Petrova, 7-5, 6-4. And so we came to the end of a Serbian Weekend.
In Montreal, Novak Djokovic edged his way into the Roger Federer–Rafael Nadal perennial two-step with a 7-6(2), 2-6, 7-6(2) victory for his second Masters Series title. Not only that but he beat Andy Roddick and Rafael Nadal along the way.
Ivanovic said she has known Djokovic since they were both 4 years old and they’re good friends:
As kids we would practice sometimes together and then go play hide and seek for the rest of the day. …It’s nice to know someone for so long and look back at your childhood… I love spending time with him.
The same is not true for Jelena Jankovic, the third member of the Serbian troika. She was not in the same age group as Ivanovic and they do not appear to be as friendly. The weekend started off with a semifinal between the two and it was a battle from beginning to end.
Jankovic was up a break in the first set and serving at 4-3 when Ana put her hand up for a timeout because the ball kids were rolling balls behind Jelena. Jelena stopped for half a second – essentially ignoring her – then went into her service motion. Ana mishit the return and stood there with her hands on her hips. She was not amused.
It was another one of those serving incidents that display gamesmanship. Jankovic should have waited until the ball kids were finished. She was clearly letting Ana know who was in charge.
Jelena was in charge and she stayed that way until Ivanovic pulled even with a break to go up 4-2 in the second set. Ivanovic had to fight off thee break points to serve out the set but she’d evened the match.
Jankovic got two match points with Ivanovic serving at 4-5 in the third set and though Ivanovic won the game, it looked like it was just a matter of time before Jankovic won the battle.
Then it happened:
BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM. Five straight forehand winners from Ivanovic and she had the break she needed. Jankovic had run out of energy. She’d suffered through a case of the flu last week so she couldn’t practice and her conditioning failed her. Ivanovic won the battle, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.
Djokovic had his own battle with Federer. He fought off six set points to get to 6-6 in the first set then won the tiebreaker 7-2. He took the third set tiebreaker by the same score.
It’s been a historical day for Serbian tennis and now it’s time to ask if Serbia is prepared to win a U.S. Open title.
Renae Stubbs and Kveta Peschke came into the media room after they won the doubles title today and Stubbs gave us one of the answers. Stubbs is fantastic. They should put her in a commentator booth immediately.
In addition to an excellent comparison of Steffi Graf‘s and Ivanovic’s forehand*, she said that Ivanovic has the skills to win a slam but might not have the mentality yet.
Ivanovic may not be ready yet, but after today, Djokovic is.
*Ivanovic hits harder but then Graf didn’t have current racket technology and, by the way, Graf moved better.