It was always going to be a tough opener for the number seven seed, Ana Ivanovic. While her section had opened up with the loss of Maria Sharapova through injury, her first round match against Dominika Cibulkova always looked like a dicey opener. After a very bright start, akin to her gorgeous red dress, and then a mid-match comeback that saw her win six straight games, Ivanovic was the first seed to tumble out of the 2015 US Open with Cibulkova scoring the win, 6-3 3-6 6-3. While it was technically an upset, I don’t think this will be a surprising result to many.
It was a complety loopy match… Ivanovic started very brightly to go up 2-0 but lost six of the next seven games as Cibulkova found her range. The Slovak player matched Ivanovic’s aggression on return but also dominated many of the rallies from the baseline, throwing in some angle but pummelling the ball with decent depth. For the entirety of the match, Ivanovic looked tentative and was so far behind the baseline. While Cibulkova was playing well and stepping in to finish off points, Ivanovic allowed Cibulkova to dictate play.
This should have been a straight sets win for Cibulkova who led 6-3 3-1 40-0*. The Slovak player had three break points on the Ivanovic serve, but wasted them all included a botched volley on the last break point. Cibulkova collapsed somewhat as Ivanovic went on to win five straight games with some slightly steadier play and renewed confidence on the return.
While Ivanovic had the momentum at the start of the third set as Cibulkova went for a wander, the Serb was still backing off. When Cibulkova got her game together again she reaffirmed her dominance and was the player looking to take more risks. Ivanovic threatened to disrupt the Domi train with a MTO at 4-1 and even had two break points down 4-2; however a return long and a back-behind-winner from Cibulkova saw the opportunities quickly evaporate. Cibulkova served out the match to love with Ivanovic offering very little resistance in the final game.
This was such a good draw for Ana but this first rounder was always a 50-50 match. Cibulkova was fully deserving of her win as Ivanovic was surprisingly passive from the baseline, only occasionally zoning with the forehand. Aside from the French Open where Ivanovic reached the semi-finals, the Serb has had another disappointing year at the Slams, bookending her year with two first round exits. Ivanovic’s year in the Slams has been remarkably similar to last year where she performed well at one (Australian Open) but lost early at the rest.
There was a piece about Ivanovic by Courtney Nguyen where Ana talked about fitness struggles and feeling fatigue in Cincy. This definitely seemed the case in this match against Cibulkova where she did look a step slow. I’m not convinced with the reinstatement of Nigel Sears back in her team who didn’t seem to have a hugely positive impact the first time around. Ivanovic is unlikely to qualify for Singapore and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see her shut down her 2015 year and focus solely on improving her fitness to get ready for 2016.
Cibulkova takes Ivanovic’s rather beautiful position in the draw and *could* go much, much deeper in this draw if she can just focus on one match at a time. I thought she played a very positive match but was given a helping hand from Ivanovic. Cibulkova will play the American wildcard, Jessica Pegula in the second round on Wednesday.
Anndddd decimation of my draw has begun hahahaha!