Talk about two lady ballers on opposite sides of the tennis spectrum, eh?
Andrea Petkovic + Ana Ivanovic, whose pairing on the doubles court at the Sony Ericsson Open was all the rage with fans and online, are both 23-years old, Serbian by birth (Petko plays for Germany of course) and floating ever closer towards the Top 10 but now seem to be on decidedly different paths after yesterday's fourth rounders.
Petko was already having a career tourney in Miami after defeating top lady baller Caroline Wozniacki in three sets in the fourth round. She offered a 4-page presser filled with quotables after the big win and her soon-to-be retired Petko shuffle has been discussed at length in all kinds of media. She even got NaturAna to participate (with hilariously mixed results - see here if you dare.)
The German was guaranteed entry into the Top 20 for the first time in her career after ousting Wozzi so no one would've blinked if she had a let down in her next match. But she didn't and impressively outhit Jelena Jankovic posting a 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 win for a spot in the semifinals. This girl is soaring.
NaturAna seemed to be playing with the same kind of confidence in her match against defending champ Kim Clijsters winning the second set after losing the first and going up 5-1 and 40-0 on the Belgian's serve in the decider. But after saving the three match points Kimmie tapped into her own reserve of confidence and experience (like winning the last two majors) saving two more MPs and earning an exhilarating 7-6(4), 3-6, 7-6(5) win.
We all know the struggles NaturAna has undergone since reaching the pinnacle of this sport and what a win over a lady baller like Kimmie could do for her game and state-of-mind. But as soon as it seemed the Serb would finally overcome a major hurdle it was gone in a flash. All credit to Kimmie for sure but this crushing loss will hurt. I mean, just ask Yonex:
"It's very hard, yeah - you should see my racquet," said Ana.Not surprisingly, the doubs pairing that had become so popular this tourney was over. They were slated to meet Peng Shuai + Shahar Peer in the quarterfinals but called it quits. NaturAna explained after her loss:
"I'm just like exhausted. It's been a lot. Andrea also had a tough match today, and we were both very, very tired."I'm sure they are, but in very different ways.
UPDATE: NaturAna has withdrawn from Marbella citing a need for rest. She also credits her doctor saying "it's only thanks to the brilliance of my doctor that I've been able to compete in Indian Wells and Miami."
[Photo(s): Getty Images, AnaIvanovic.com]