Inspired Ivanovic Stuns Sharapova
ROME, Italy - Ana Ivanovic was in vintage form at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia on Thursday, beating Maria Sharapova in straight sets - ending her seven-match losing streak against the Russian.
Sharapova seemed destined to at least make it to a blockbuster semifinal clash with Serena Williams, after both WTA legends won their opening matches in straight sets on Wednesday and were the two highest seeds left in the top half of the draw. They had some impressive head-to-head records on all the other players in their way, too - Sharapova's against Ivanovic was particularly lopsided, the Russian winning eight of their 10 previous meetings - and, more dubiously, their last seven in a row.
The Turning Point
But all of that went out the window on Thursday as the No.11-seeded Ivanovic came out firing on all cylinders, storming through the first set in just 31 minutes, 6-1, then breaking in the first game of the second set for a 1-0 lead. The No.8-seeded Sharapova broke back and stayed on serve with Ivanovic for the next six games, but Ivanovic broke in style for 5-4 - she blasted a huge winner to seal the break - and she then served the match out, finishing it off on another huge hook forehand winner.
By The Numbers
Sharapova's numbers on the match were great, but Ivanovic's were even greater. Sharapova had a positive winners-to-unforced errors differential of +2 (16 to 14) but Ivanovic had an even better +9 differential (22 to 13). Also, Ivanovic played the bigger points better - she converted on five of her eight break point chances during the match, while Sharapova converted on two of her six chances.
At the end of the day, though, the biggest number was seven - the number of times in a row Ivanovic had lost to Sharapova, finally coming to an abrupt end in straight sets. It had also been almost exactly seven years since Ivanovic's last win over Sharapova - the semifinals of the French Open in 2007.
Sharapova had not lost to anyone but Serena Williams on clay since the French Open in 2011.
Awaiting Ivanovic in the quarterfinals is No.13 seed Carla Suárez Navarro, who advanced to the last eight via walkover after No.4 seed Simona Halep had to withdraw because of an abdominal injury.
Ivanovic beat Suárez Navarro in their only previous meeting, though it came via retirement.