Ana Ivanovic couldn't have asked for a better start at Australian Open 2013. The 2008 finalist played a near-perfect match in wiping the court with Melinda Czink 6-2 6-1 in the final match on Rod Laver Arena in just one hour.
The 13th-seeded Serbian, who has been focusing more on her fitness and defense, was extremely quick in chasing down the left-hander’s blasts and turning around one point after another. Ivanovic also served well, adeptly spotting her attempts to every part of the box while mixing spins and speeds. As always, she dictated play with her massive forehand, and when Czink wasn’t knocking in wicked slice serves, Ivanovic was able to attack, jumping on the Hungarian and winning of 15 of her foe’s 17 second serve points, an incredible 88 per cent.
Ivanovic admitted after the match that she expected a more difficult assignment against the Hungarian.
“To be honest, I expected tough match because we played few times in the past; I also lost once against her,” she said.
“I really wanted to make sure I work hard for each point and try to take away time for her because she likes to strike the ball and counter punch and use the pace of opponents.”
The former No. 1 had a brief scare in the third game of the second set, falling down sliding to her left while hitting a backhand passing shot and turning her left ankle. But while she limped around a little in the next few points, Ivanovic continued to control the match, pushing Czink back every time that she made a charge.
Ivanovic, who has not reached the quarterfinals in Melbourne since she lost to Maria Sharapova in the 2008 final, finished the match with 24 winners and only nine unforced errors, and also forced Czink into 29 errors.
By virtue of her victory, the 25-year-old earned herself a second round match-up with Chan Yung-Jan of Chinese Taipei, who upset Daniela Hantuchova 6-1 1-6 6-1.
Ivanovic has set her sights on regaining the top 10 this year and challenging for major titles, but she has admitted that she still has to prove she can do it. After she won Roland Garros in 2008, it took her more than four years to gain another Grand Slam quarterfinal. She finally managed to do it at the 2012 US Open, where she fell to eventual champion Serena Williams.
Ivanovic was asked if she felt she had a run to the business end of a major in her, but refused to look too far ahead.
“Last year, quarterfinals of US Open was the first time I play quarters since winning French Open, so it's very hard talking about winning,” she reasoned.
“But I definitely feel my game, it's at a higher level than it was. There is tough opponents out there, lots of girls playing well. I feel like I can challenge all of them.”
At the Australian Open last year, Ivanovic played reasonably well in a fourth round loss to 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.
She is hoping to better that result this year, but even if she wins in the next round, she might have to face compatriot Jelena Jankovic in the third round and possibly fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska in round of 16, who is coming off of title runs in Auckland and Sydney.