Ana Ivanovic has denied her Australian Open campaign is in disarray after being wiped off Pat Rafter Arena by an evergreen Amelie Mauresmo.
Like fellow Serb and tournament top seed Novak Djokovic, Ivanovic bombed out of the Brisbane International meekly with a 6-3 6-2 upset loss to 29-year-old Mauresmo on Thursday.
The world No.5 was expected to sweep past the Frenchwoman, who had made tough work of her first two clashes against Jelena Dokic and compatriot Julie Coin, but it was Mauresmo who shone in the 67-minute quarterfinal.
Ivanovic struggled for rhythm throughout and was terribly shaky on serve, failing to hold five of her last six service games after leading 3-2 in the first set.
But she will stick to her Australian Open masterplan of a solid week of practice in Melbourne.
Ivanovic also only played three matches before her last assault at Melbourne Park, which finished with a defeat in the final to Maria Sharapova, but she looks far less convincing.
While patchy in tough wins over Petra Kvitova (world No.50) and Italian qualifier Roberta Vinci (83), the 21 year old talked up her Open chances.
“I was pretty happy with my first two matches,” she said. “I played really well the first one and [against Vinci Wednesday night] I dug really deep and it gave me a lot of confidence.
“I didn’t have much time to recover … and I didn’t have the energy to dig deep again.
“In Melbourne I’m going to be practicing and playing lots of sparring.
“I just have to get more consistent and work more on my serve.”
Ivanovic started her campaign Down Under as the second favourite to Serena Williams for the Open but betting agencies dropped her to $7 fourth favourite after the loss to Mauresmo.
The French Open champion did show fight against Mauresmo with three straight winners in the fifth game of the second set to break back, but she handed the ascendancy back in the very next game with a double fault.
It was the French right-hander’s first triumph over a top-10 player in almost two years – the last coming against Kim Clijsters to win the final in Antwerp in February 2007, the last of her 24 career titles.
Mauresmo’s performance, after a heavy off-season training regime under new coach Hugo Lecoq, prompted Ivanovic to believe she was “showing great things” and able to fight her way back into the top 10.
“It feels great,” said Mauresmo, who holds a 6-2 record over the Serbian glamour girl.
“I’m very proud of the way I played today from the first one to the last.”
Second seed Victoria Azarenko was also in trouble but fought back for a gutsy 7-6(5) 6-4 victory over Czech Lucie Safarova to set up a semifinal with Italian Sara Errani, who beat Olga Govortsova 6-3 6-3.
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