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Dominant on serve during a comprehensive first-round win over Makarova, Ivanovic has earned an opportunity to consolidate her revival by exacting revenge from one of the architects of her decline.  Fresh from the 2008 Roland Garros title, the Serb entered Wimbledon as a buoyant top seed, only to be deflated by the tenacious Chinese star.  In addition to outstanding movement and consistency, Zheng has troubled Ana with low, deep groundstrokes that force her statuesque opponent below her comfortable striking point.  Among the key advantages that Ivanovic holds over the petite 21st seed, however, is her recently reinvigorated serve and sparkling second-serve return.  Those first-strike weapons should shine on the Open’s fast courts, capturing short points without allowing Zheng to settle into rallies.  While first-serve percentage will prove vital for Ana, this statistic also will be essential for the Chinese star, who can’t afford to expose her benign second delivery on crucial points.  Both Ana and Jie typically rely upon baseline might to dictate exchanges, but the Serb and the doubles specialist have ventured into the forecourt with panache during recent weeks.  As the match evolves, note the duration of the points to determine who holds the edge at any stage; short points augur well for Ivanovic, while longer rallies favor Zheng.

We proceed to preview several of the other intriguing events on Day 3:

Tipsarevic vs. Roddick:

A day after three Serbs showcased their talents on Arthur Ashe Stadium, the bespectacled Tipsarevic takes aim at the leading American hope.  Two years ago at Wimbledon, Janko stunned the three-time Wimbledon finalist by capitalizing on almost every opportunity that he gained on Roddick’s serve while profiting from his adversary’s untimely miscues.  Recovering from a summer hampered by mono, Andy briskly dispatched Stephane Robert in his opener and displayed more impressive all-court coverage than one generally associates with him.  If fitness doesn’t become an issue, the home-court crowd and slick surface should lift Roddick over Tipsarevic, but the Serb has developed a habit of rising to the occasion against elite opponents on the grandest stages.  His five-set epic with Federer at the Australian Open two years ago ranks among the most thrilling first-week Slam encounters of the last few years, and he won’t feel intimidated by the hostile crowd.  Once reliant upon his tiebreak prowess, Roddick has struggled notably in those situations since Wimbledon, so watch closely if the match arrives at that stage.  Unless Tipsarevic can set up backhand-to-backhand exchanges that test Andy’s fitness or patience, however, he won’t be able to win three sets from the American.

Dulko vs. Azarenka:

Does Vika fancy a bit of vengeance?  At this year’s Roland Garros, the delicate Argentine inflicted one of the most lopsided losses of the Belarussian’s career in majors.  Nevertheless, Dulko profited from Azarenka’s hamstring injury in addition to a succession of shanked forehands, and don’t forget that she (unlike Vika) reached the second week here last year.  Healthy and refocused, the tenth seed enjoyed a stellar US Open Series that included a Stanford title and Rogers Cup semifinal appearance.  Beyond her Paris embarrassment at the Argentine’s hands, she may be hoping to atone for her painful demise in New York last year, courtesy of the indefatigable Schiavone.  Tantrums, meltdowns, and odd injuries still play a role in Azarenka’s evolution, and she displayed familiar frailty in the second set of her opener against the crafty but underpowered Niculescu.  As she prepares for a tantalizing collision with Pavlyuchenkova, however, Vika will hope to dismiss this opponent with maximum efficiency.

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Llodra vs. Berdych:

At the core of France’s Davis Cup upset over defending champion Spain stood the quirky lefty Michael Llodra, who named Mauresmo his coach, discusses his wine collection during press conferences, and once celebrated a Wimbledon doubles title by prancing around the court in his underwear.  More importantly, the Frenchman captured the Eastbourne title this summer, sternly tested Roddick at Wimbledon, and even held a brief lead over Federer at the Rogers Cup.  Having reached a semifinal and a final at his last two majors, Berdych should be filled with confidence and relaxed in his new role as one of the ATP’s premier contenders.  On the other hand, he showed a disquieting glimpse of his former, flustered self by failing to finish Federer in Toronto, and a leg injury hobbled him during a Cincinnati loss to the now-absent Baghdatis.  One would expect the Czech’s thunderous game to flourish in Flushing just as did Del Potro’s monstrous groundstrokes a year ago, yet his mind remains the most vulnerable element of his game.  If Llodra can rattle the easily rattled Czech with relentless forays to the net and deftly angled volleys, a scintillating rollercoaster could develop.

Errani vs. Kleybanova:

Opposing an Italian with an intelligent all-court game but limited first-strike potential is a Russian with prodigious groundstroke power but underwhelming recent results.  In San Diego, Errani came within a handful of points of upsetting eventual champion Kuznetsova; a few weeks later in New Haven, she held multiple match points against the admittedly ailing Stosur.  On both of those occasions, the diminutive doubles specialist rallied from one-set deficits in displays of a Schiavone-like tenacity that nearly toppled opponents of far greater shot-making talent and athletic ability.  An imaginative shotmaker herself, Kleybanova fell twice to Errani’s compatrio­t Pennetta this summer and suffered a perplexing loss to Hantuchova in San Diego, after she had thoroughly controlled their encounter.  The Russian’s deceptively effective movement and relentless depth on both groundstroke wings should hit through the Italian on this fast surface, one would think, but the Italian frustrated her on the Miami hard court earlier this year.  Look for an intriguing contrast of styles and cleverly constructed points that probe unexpected angles on both sides of the court.


It’s time to revert to the ajdes as we prepare for Episode II of the Adventures of Ana!  Maybe we should close our eyes and hope for the best…

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