Nice article by Matt Cronin on Baby K. Here's an excerpt:
That would be great news for the sport, because with Maria Sharapova still sidelined, Ivanovic has the most engaging personality of any of the meaningful young players. When she's on, she also owns an extremely attractive game, which offers a lot more variety than she given credit for, with nifty volleys, a one-handed backhand slice and soft drop shots.
In order to reach her peak, however, Ivanovic will have to temper some of her off-court activities when preparing for the majors, especially during a period when she's been pressing.
Today, she's no longer the cute brunette who learned to play tennis in a swimming pool. She's a worldwide sex symbol who has been on the cover of dozens of magazines and whose recent romance with Spanish player Fernando Verdasco made the celebrity columns. According to one of her friends, Ivanovic broke up with Verdasco a few weeks ago, but that has not stopped the paparazzi from stalking the practice courts trying to get a shot of "Anando" together.
But the cold white lines of the tennis court have no room for such fanfare, and if Ivanovic is going to challenge for the Australian Open title or any other major in 2009, she's going to have to develop a bit of a harder shell. Instead of merely saying that her biggest desire is to give it her all, taking Olympic champion Elena Dementieva's tact might be better.
After winning her second straight Australian summer title in Sydney last week, the Russian Dementieva spoke of how she invited the pressure of going to the Australian Open as a talked-about player, one who could legitimately be called a tournament favorite. Dementieva wants to be the hunted one.
When told of Dementieva's comments, Ivanovic saw her point.
"I think it's important to have a pressure coming into the Grand Slam, because if you feel pressure it means that you're in a position to do something well," Ivanovic said. "That's what you work for. It definitely gives you confidence."
Currently, the talk in the Australian Open hallways is that Ivanovic is ripe for an early upset and that once she is forced to confront a talented player — say, 11th seed Caroline Wozniacki in the fourth round — she'll become unraveled. She is thought to lack back-up plans, ways to win matches when she is not outright dominating with her forehand.
But that's a bit of a stretch. If you look closely at Ivanovic's history, there are plenty of matches that she has gutted out when she hasn't been clicking. Those types of wins haven't been as frequent recently, but she wasn't kissing the lines against Georges and still came away with the win by changing up the speed and locations of her groundstrokes.
I love Cronin's writeups on Ana because he is one of the few tennis journalists that actually recognizes her variety of shot. He also does a great job of taking a player's pressers and putting them into a narrative and giving them context. And he lives in the East Bay, which mean's he's automatically awesome.
Er, sorry. Hella awesome.