A.I. raised her sweaty hands from the French clay, and reached to all the light in the sky. The roar of the cloud had drifted away, and the whisper of the winds spoke to her as she floated to a new dimension. The fantastical journey of A.I. took her to many magical places, but only once on the highway of endless dreams did she eye an opening into a transcendent world of tennis immortality. Just as the valiant statue was carried to the new land, A.I. was swept away on the same path. The pearly gates of the quarterfinals briefly opened for A.I., and she cried out frantically for Q.F. as the glimmering light slowly faded away….and scene.
In five years since Ana Ivanovic won the 2008 French Open, the Serbian beauty has managed to reach the quarterfinals of any grand slam just once in twenty-two attempts. One year ago, Serena Williams blasted Ivanovic 6-1, 6-3 at the U.S. Open, and thus sent her packing after a brief moment of hope. Last Monday Ivanovic had another opportunity in New York, but faced a modern mastermind of tennis, Victoria Azarenka. The 24-year-old from Belarus is currently ranked #2 in the world, and defeated Ivanovic, 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 on August 3rd at the Southern California Open.
The singles match of doubles teammates was originally supposed to take place last Sunday, but was postponed after some heavy rain at Flushing Meadows. How much does that weigh on professional tennis players? They are undoubtedly used to handling adversity on and off the court, however mental deterioration has been the main problem for Ana Ivanovic over the last five years. The Serbian Sweetheart has the talent, but just when A.I. appears to see the light and take control of her own destiny, she becomes her own worst enemy.
Ana Ivanovic started off strong on Monday by winning the first set 6-4, but Azarenka countered back and took the second set 6-3. “Come, Ana.” The pearly gates of the quarterfinals were so close, and I was rooting for Ivanovic to step it up and shock the tennis world. In the end, Azarenka took the deciding set 6-4 but not without a major fight from A.I. She fought back time and time again by spoiling three match points, and I saw a renewed intensity in the her eyes. Although Ana Ivanovic didn’t make it through the pearly gates this time, the 25-year-old proved her mental game is on point and that dream #23 may become a reality.