Déjà vu: Ivanovic takes out U.S. teen Stephens at U.S. Open again
"This morning I woke up with some swelling," she said, adding that she "just tried to kind of put it out of my head." But her compromised core not only cost her power on the stroke, it also often required her to take a second stroke with a kick that became predictable to Ivanovic over time. The Serb waited like a cheetah in tall grass before pouncing on them.
"I tried to run around sometimes and put more pressure with my forehand," Ivanovic said.
"She hits a lot of forehands. She hits the ball really hard. She made some really good shots," Stephens said. "That's kind of how she plays."
"Serena [Williams] is still playing, and she's going to be 31," Stephens said. "I have a ways to go."
Speaking of Williams, there's little reason to bet against her coasting into the quarterfinal round. The revelation is that Ivanovic could get there, too, and while playing better than she thought since suffering a foot injury that recently forced her withdrawal from a lead-up tournament. Her inability to walk without pain had her considering whether to withdraw from this one, too. Ivanovic's road to the quarters is not easy. Her next opponent, Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova -- whom she lost to the last time she faced her, in Rome four years ago -- will be tough to navigate. Getting past Williams in a potential quarterfinal will be even tougher. Ivanovic is 0-for-3 against her, the last loss coming -- you guessed it -- a year ago this time on Ashe, in the round of 16. But Ivanovic seems more ready for the journey than she's ever been. Not getting too far ahead of herself has been key. Her goal was "to return to the top 10 this year," said Ivanovic, who entered the U.S. Open ranked 13th. "I really want to take care of my next match and then see how it progresses."
So far, so good.