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Ivanovic Once Again In The Spotlight

August 12, 2010

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Ana Ivanovic has endured a well documented slide outside of the top 50. Once the world number one and French Open
Champion, her confidence as well as some major flaws in her game came to the foreground when the going got tough. With injuries, pressure, and the resurgence of players such as Kim Clijsters, Maria Sharapova, and Justine Henin, Ivanovic has struggled since 2008. She has never really been out of the spotlight by posing for men’s magazine and dating famous golfers. She finds herself as the topic of conversation once again this week after a disagreement with the Montreal tournament.

It started with Montreal declining Ivanovic’s request for a wild-card. This was somewhat odd as she is an ex-champion and went out of her way to support the tournament when it clashed with the Olympics in 2008. At the time she was suffering from a thumb injury and jet lag but Ivanovic felt loyalty to the tournament she was defending. Naturally she was hurt that the tournament didn’t feel the same amount of loyalty. She admitted to being upset and disappointed. Tournament director, Eugene Lapierre, explained that Ivanovic’s ranking had fallen not because of an injury or retirement, but because her game had dropped. He said they didn’t need her star power and would prefer to give the wildcard to a young up-and-comer. At the time, the tennis world seemed to support Lapierre’s decision. Ivanovic’s fans were upset, but others could see that her game really wasn’t anywhere near a decent enough level to justify a wildcard and a tournament cannot give out wildcards based on past loyalties, it pretty much defeats the purpose of them. Many felt satisfied that a tournament had finally decided to decline the popular Serbian based on her game instead of focusing on her popularity.

However, things were brought to a head this week when Ivanovic began to play well in Cincinnati. After upsetting Victoria Azarenka and finding herself in the quarter finals, Lapierre decided to offer Ivanovic a wild-card after all. Ivanovic declined, stating that she felt his earlier comments were hurtful and she did not feel welcome at Montreal. She even said she wasn’t sure she would ever play the tournament again. Instead, Ivanovic will play New Haven the week after.

Many fans of Ivanovic are singing her praises for sticking up for herself. Lapierre does indeed look like a bit of a fool after his brave decision to decline her. Ivanovic, however, is being equally immature. Just as she is not entitled to take the wild-card eventually offered to her, the tournament was never entitled to offer it to her in the first place. Instead of taking the matter so personally Ivanovic should have seen it for what it was. A wake-up call. Perhaps someone was finally willing to be honest with her about her level of play over the past year or so. It’s no surprise Ivanovic was upset but being so vocal about it turned what could have been a small matter into something of a catfight. Of course, Lapierre should have stuck with his original decision. By offering her a wild-card he was bowing to the pressure of Ivanovic and her fans instead of sticking with his original argument, which was a perfectly fair one. An unnecessary comment about how she should be made to play qualifying wasn’t exactly wise either.

It’s all a bit of a mess. The original decision sure had controversy but it was supported by many tennis fans. As it stands now, Lapierre appears weak whilst Ivanovic seems overly sensitive. It really has made a mountain of a molehill. The bottom line is that the Montreal tournament will survive. It doesn’t need Ivanovic to keep up its poplularity any more than Indian Wells needs the Williams girls.  Ivanovic too will continue to play tennis whether she comes back strongly or not. Many more tournaments will continue to give her wild-cards despite her level of play as long as she continues to pose in bikinis. Both parties will learn from this incident about entitlements and learning to think before you speak. All and all, it’s an unfortunate mess but nothing that won’t be forgotten by the end of the week.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 13, 2010 12:01 am

    Kait-
    I agree with all that you say. Both sides were remiss. This is an interesting situation, but you may have added one more foot to the molehill. (I also think that the bikini comment was kind of snide; and what’s wrong with dating a famous Australian golfer? Martina Hingis dated a golfer- Sergio Garcia) Meantime, I am very happy to see Ivanovic take this small step back up the mountain. She has the game, but hasn’t had the mindframe, unfortunately. Beating Azarenka had to have given her some confidence. I know nothing about her next opponent, except that she beat Jankovic. Good article overall.
    Jeanius

  2. passingshot permalink
    August 13, 2010 2:33 am

    Kaitepai, I think Ivanovic’s game has always been a source of confusion, to herself as much as anyone else. She has relied too much on simply clubbing the ball randomly, rather than constructing points. When she misses, which is a lot now, she has nowhere to go. The serve collapses first. The strange little fist pumps, followed by a pirouette and a squeal of self-encouragement, don’t convince. They simply show how much emotional turmoil she experiences when under pressure. It’s a tightrope she can’t walk, and it’s almost a relief when she finally falls – ending the agony of suspense for the spectator. Tennis is a mental game and you can quickly see who has it and who doesn’t. Ivanovic falls into the latter category. It is not surprising she turns to modelling – her assets have ultimately always been more physical than mental.

  3. August 13, 2010 3:01 am

    How did someone who just won an important match get to be so picked on? Cut her a break. She had earned her way to the top at one point. Maybe she can earn it to the halfway point. Her game was pretty good at one point. I watched her as she climbed up the rankings, and then was a finalist at the French Open. And then she won it the following year. Actually, at that point her serve was an asset. She can still at least halfway back up if she can get her confidence back and get it together mentally. These wins should contribute to that quite a bit.
    Don’t write her off yet by focusing so much on her modeling. She isn’t the only player to do that. Even Kuznetsova has gotten into that act, if you can believe it.

  4. August 14, 2010 3:18 pm

    I think that bringing up the Modelling is a non issue unless you are just envious . Why is it a non issue with the male players. Check out Feliciano lopez , Fernando Verdasco, Novak( modelling in his underwear) David Beckham ect. ect. Lets face it these athletes have a short career life span and the elite few make most of their money from endorsments. That is why they work so hard to get where they are. This is their livlihood. I would wager to say that any one of the players would take the modelling promos if they could get them, sodon’t put Ana down because she was blessed with looks. If you all didn’t buy the magazines this would be a moot point. The phrase” Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful ” comes to mind here!

  5. August 16, 2010 4:24 pm

    Interesting post, thank you for taking the time to break down the recent news surrounding Ivanovic. While her game was never new or refreshing — basically, the power-intensive big serve, big forehand style — I always enjoyed watching her play at the top level because of her modesty and kind personality. It’s great to see her back in form at Cincinnati after a difficult season. Hopefully, the foot injury heals in time for the US Open.

  6. August 19, 2010 4:09 am

    “Why is it a non-issue with the male players?”

    Because they are always considered athletes first; women never are.

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