Ana Ivanovic Needs a Toss!

24 Jun 2009 by Hiland in Ana Ivanovic

ana-ivanovicI never thought it would be hard to watch Ana Ivanovic play tennis. I was wrong. Not only is it hard to watch the Serbian beauty queen play, but it is painful. Painful to watch, filled with angst and it must be distracting to play against.

This woman has the competitive heart of a lion and the service ball toss of a 12 year old or perhaps of a 90 year old. The simple act of flipping the ball into a proper service hitting zone is just not happening for Ana. She inexplicably lost her ball toss at last year’s Wimbledon, where she arrived as the world’s top ranked tennis player.

Last years, Ana was fresh off a Grand Slam victory in Paris and a final appearance in Melbourne. She was at the top of the tennis world and at the top of her personal life. In Serbia, there were parades in her honor. She replaced Jelena Jankovic as the Queen of Serbian tennis. She has legions of international fans and has inspired many a fantasy. Ana Ivanovic was a media magnet, a great interview and a dynamic photo shoot ready to happen.
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Then, she arrived at Wimbledon. Perhaps, it was that top seed that led to her demise. Perhaps, it is her very visible relationship with Fernando Verdasco that is keeping her submerged. Perhaps, Ana needs a sports psychologist. She definitely needs a coach, having recently disengaged from her second coach in less than a year. But, what she needs most is a good toss; one that allows her balance, a proper weight shift and a reliable point of contact. She has none of those necessary parts.

Unseeded 24 year old Czech star Lucie Hradecka took it right to Ana. The stocky right-hander had the 13th seed on her heels and falling backwards. With the Czech’s 7-4 won lost record in 2009, this match seemed a tune-up for the pretty Serb. But, what a battle!

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Lucie is improving. She made the second round in Paris, but she has little experience and no big wins in her resume. This was supposed to be an exhibition match.

Lucie out-hit, out-served and out-composed the former number one. A year from now, she would win this match. As it was, she stretched the former number one to the limit before succumbing 6-8 in the third. She had two match points. She received no breaks. She simply went toe-to-toe and slugged it out with her more experienced opponent.

With the shadow making visibility blurring the second set, three key line calls kept Ivanovic in the match. All three went in favor of the lower seed. The three rulings were made by the umpire.

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Despite one seemingly especially bad call, Lucie remained composed. She showed little disappointment compared to her opponent who whined, badgered and protested many a play. Rather than resort to this, I would rather see Ana re-learn the art of serving.

Her velocity just is not there. Her erratic ball toss has her lunging and hitting the ball with poor weight distribution. She only played 61% of her first serves and double faulted 6 times, hardly the numbers for a champion. She has lost about 15 mph on her first serve, which is barely distinguishable from opponent’s second serve. Watching Ana play, you become convinced that she does not know where the ball, is going or when. It is painful.

What seems pretty apparent is that Ana Ivanovic will once again not be playing tennis in the second week of a major. She could use the rest. Please Ana, learn to toss, learn to serve once again. We want to see more of you, but until you change that toss. It just is not happening.

You are no longer the Queen. You are the student. When you are ready, come on back, we’ll be waiting for you!

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1 Comment »

  • Good girl

    Comment by Dan Brown — June 24, 2009 @ 2:02 pm

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