I always figured there was nothing in sports quite like facing Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan or any storied pitcher with a blinding fastball and an equally devastating curve. It becomes a guessing game, with a chance to look so totally overmatched, you might consider another line of work.
Jon, so Ana Ivanovic loses 6-3, 6-4 in the first round to Shahar Peer. Seriously, I am baffled as to how this player could reach the Australian Open final and win the French Open title in 2008, and since winning the French has not made it beyond the fourth round in a major since. ... What gives? Do you think there's any way we, Ana's fans, can get the WTA Tour to kick her off the tour? Harsh, I know, but then again at least her fans would no longer have to endure her miserable career slump anymore. -- Keith, Minneapolis
After a week of play, the 2009 Australian Open has reinforced what most already thought to be the case in tennis: the men's game is gripping on account of the consistently excellent performances of the top players. The women's game is gripping because of the inconsistency at the top, and the wide open fields it creates. Herewith our midterm grades.
What is going on with Ana Ivanovic? She seemed in good spirits in her press conference -- which shocked me. I realize she's been dealing with a thumb injury that the doctors still aren't sure how to fix, and that has meant little match play. Any buzz you can let us in on? I have a theory -- look at Sampras, Serena, Sharapova, Andy, even Djokovic as examples: generally it takes some time for someone when they win their first major to get their games back together and start fighting consistently. In both Andy's and Ana's case, the first major was soon followed (if not immediately) with the No. 1 ranking. Maybe it's just part of the process. And obviously, as to any rule or theory, their are exceptions: Steffi Graf, Venus, Roger. -- Dart, Atlanta, Ga.
PARIS -- Ana Ivanovic will be the new No. 1 player on the Sony Ericcson WTA Tour on Monday, and it'll only be a matter of time until she's a household name in the United States. Ivanovic has the rare combination of beauty and skill that translates on and off the court. She has the work ethic and credibility to ward off the inevitable comparisons that will be made with other over-marketed female stars and the legitimate appeal to attract everyone from fans to sponsors alike.
Like skid marks at a crash site, tracks in the clay told the story of the 2008 French Open. Want to know why Rafael Nadal won his fourth straight title, humiliating Roger Federer in the final? All you had to do was look at the court. It was streaked and slashed, indicating the lengths Nadal had raced to retrieve balls. Forward, back, at odd angles, into the courtside geranium boxes.
There's something about Ana Ivanovic that strangles your attention the moment she steps onto a tennis court. Especially when she saunters towards you in a pink tank top and black shorts prepared to give you a private tennis lesson.