Ivanovic enjoys freedom of underdog role against Bouchard

Updated: 2014-10-23 09:26


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Ivanovic enjoys freedom of underdog role against Bouchard

Ana Ivanovic of Serbia prepares to hit balls after defeating Eugenie Bouchard of Canada during their WTA Finals singles tennis match at the Singapore Indoor Stadium October 22, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]

SINGAPORE - Ana Ivanovic was delighted to revel in the underdog role as she opened her WTA Finals account on Wednesday with a thumping 6-1 6-3 win over Eugenie Bouchard who she had lost to in their previous two encounters.

The seventh-ranked Serb had suffered crushing defeats by the Canadian at this year's Australian Open and Wimbledon last year and after falling behind Bouchard in the rankings, Ivanovic felt the pressure of favouritism could work against her opponent.

"I felt today I had the advantage of our match being a different situation because it's her first WTA Finals," Ivanovic, who previously qualified for the season-ending elite eight-woman event in 2007 and 2008, told reporters.

"Also, this is the first time that she's ranked higher than me in all of our matches, so pressure was on her," she said of the world number five.

"I really tried to use this as my advantage and tried to be aggressive and play free... it worked."

Ivanovic started brilliantly, racing to a 5-0 lead on the back of a perfect 12-for-12 points on first serve as she adopted a strategy to prevent Bouchard from playing to her strengths.

"I was just more aggressive and making more shots. She's definitely a tough player. When you give her chances, like in the second set a few times I was hitting a little bit shorter and she would use this and hit very powerfully," Ivanovic added.

Building confidence

"So I really tried to take this away from her. I knew she liked that style of play. I tried to keep her on the run.

"That first game was also very important to hold my serve, and then I managed to break her straight away. That gave me confidence.

"I really tried not to think about the score too much and tried rather to play one point at a time and be aggressive and do what I've been working on."

Ivanovic lost her first Red Group match 6-4 6-4 to Serena Williams on Monday and concludes the round robin phase against unbeaten Romanian Simona Halep, who thumped the world number one 6-0 6-2 earlier on Wednesday, in their final match on Friday.

Any one of the four players in the group can still reach the semi-finals, a situation Ivanovic found a bit of a hindrance against Bouchard as she tried to work out the equations.

"At one point in my match today I started counting, and I'm like, 'Why am I doing this?'," Ivanovic laughed.

"Sometimes in a group that's why it's tough. It's better if you don't know. I want to go out there and play the best I can and fight for each game. In a group every game matters and that's what I'm going to try to do.

"The Halep match is going to be tough, she's playing very, very well. But I don't want to think too much about how much is enough and how much is not."