Ivanovic blames injury for early exit at Open
Updated: 2011-01-19 07:57
Ana Ivanovic of Serbia reacts to a point against Ekaterina Makarova of Russia during their first-round match on the second day of the Australian Open in Melbourne on Tuesday. Former world No 1 Ivanovic made a shock early exit, beaten by 49th-ranked Makarova 3-6, 6-4, 10-8. Nicolas Asfouri / Agence France-Presse
Favorite Clijsters sends out warning with 6-0, 6-0 thrashing of Safina while Zvonareva also shines
MELBOURNE - Former world No 1 Ana Ivanovic on Tuesday blamed an injury setback for her shock first-round defeat at the Australian Open.
The 2008 Australian finalist and French Open winner made a tame exit when she was beaten by 49th-ranked Russian Ekaterina Makarova 3-6, 6-4, 10-8 in two hours and 47 minutes.
Ivanovic, who only won one match here last year and was a first-round loser at Wimbledon, said she simply lacked match fitness in the marathon third set after being forced to rest an abdominal strain.
The 23-year-old Serb picked up the injury during this month's Hopman Cup in Perth, where she had to withdraw from the final.
"What I think got to me in the end was fitness, you know, just not being able to stay with her in a longer rallies," she said. "That was really disappointing.
"I was really unlucky, for the last 10 days I couldn't push hard in practice because of my abdominal strain.
"I really only had Sunday and Monday that I could push a little bit more and could actually serve.
"I think that at the end got to me. Energy-wise I felt good, but it was just that few little extra steps that were lacking."
Despite the loss, Ivanovic said she took many positives out of the performance and remained buoyant after winning two of her final three tournaments last season.
"I had a lot of positive things come out of this match," she said.
"Today she was better, all credit to her, but I still have lot of room to improve and lot of things to build on.
"I really feel my game is coming together and, you know, lots of positives came out of this match today."
The Serbian starlet, a beaten finalist here in 2008, looked on track for an easy win when she cruised through the first set, before the Russian rallied.
Ivanovic showed some fight by saving five match points in the third, but the 22-year-old Makarova finally closed out the 91-minute set with a forehand winner.
Ivanovic was left rueing yet another Grand Slam early exit after falling in round two at last year's Australian and French Opens, before being shocked in her first match at Wimbledon and reaching the US Open's fourth round.
Meanwhile, Belgium's Kim Clijsters humiliated former world No 1 Dinara Safina 6-0, 6-0 to head an trio of impressive winners.
Tournament favorite Clijsters sent Russia's Safina packing in only 44 minutes to send a stark warning to the rest of the field, following easy victories by Russia's Vera Zvonareva and local hero Samantha Stosur.
Second seed Zvonareva disposed of Austria's Sybille Bammer 6-2, 6-1 in 59 minutes, while fifth seed Stosur took 53 minutes to thrash American wildcard Lauren Davis 6-1, 6-1.
Clijsters' emphatic win came a day after some fancied players struggled to overcome modest opponents in their first matches.
The two-time US Open champion was in complete control throughout the lopsided encounter, barely raising a sweat as she swept the distraught Safina from the Rod Laver Arena.
Safina was a runner-up at the Australian Open just two years ago but looked a shadow of her former self as Clijsters dominated every aspect of the game.
The first set was over in a lightning 20 minutes and the second flashed by in 24 as Clijsters underlined why she is many people's pick the title.
"I knew I had to be really focused and play the best I can," Clijsters said.
"I know Dinara didn't play at her best, but I just focused on my side of the net and didn't worry about what she was doing."
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