Saturday, January 26, 2008

Motivations of a Runner-Up?

Ana Ivanovic didn't win in Australia yesterday, but don't think that's the last you'll see of the 20-year-old Serbian on the grand stage of major finals.

Ivanovic, who honed her game during the cold Eastern European winters in a pool-turned-tennis court, is just getting started as a mature WTA contender.

There was obviously no love lost between Ivanovic and her defeater, Maria Sharapova. The two barely touched hands at the net, while avoiding eye contact and making their way to their post-match stances. Furthermore, the stood awkwardly feet apart during the trophy ceremony before being called on stage, making zero effort to appear friends in any manner.

But for Ivanovic, this was her real arrival on the grand slam circuit. The French Open was her warm-up last year, when she froze her way to a dismal loss to Justine Henin but still grinned ear-to-ear at the chance of just being there. Yesterday, instead, she spoke of lost chances and frustration that she didn't capitalize when she could have. She even got a little emotional on the podium, saying that it all "meant a lot" to her.

The reason I point all this out is that I believe Ivanovic is the real deal. She has the game, the athleticism, the size. She's the complete package in the world of professional tennis, and the emotion and drive just make her more of a threat to win countless slams in her burgeoning career.

Her motivation is clear, so now for Ana, it's not if - it's when.

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