This has been a pretty good year for Ana Ivanovic, with three tournament victories and a few deep runs in other tournaments.
This has been a pretty challenging year for Victoria Azarenka, with left foot and right knee injuries limiting her to seven tournaments before this U.S. Open.
Ivanovic's year, and Open, isn't so good right now. She lost in the second round to Karolina Pliskova, 7-5, 6-4, Thursday. Azarenka gained a little traction in her Open and season, winning her second-round match against American Christina McHale, 6-3, 6-2.
"It's very disappointing," Ivanovic said. "It's never easy, you know, to finish, especially this early. I was really hoping I can make a good run and push . . . I thought I had a pretty good summer. Very disappointed to finish this early and in this manner because I really felt it wasn't my game out there today."
Azarenka has been struggling to re-establish her game this year. She has been the runner-up to Serena Williams (who defeated Vania King Thursday) in the last two Opens, was the Australian Open champion in 2012 and 2013, and has been the No. 1 player in the world. But lack of wins and any consistent play knocked her out of the top 10 this season for the first time since she broke into the elite class in 2010.
Now ranked 17th at the start of the Open, Azarenka isn't focusing on the numbers and can't call upon the good play of last year to provide inspiration for the new year. "It will never feel like last year. It doesn't even feel like yesterday to me," Azarenka said. "It is as simple as that. I never look back at what happened. I think that's the right attitude, because that's what keeps me looking forward to my goal."
As for building momentum at the Open by winning two matches, Azarenka instead looks at her return to the tour at Eastbourne in June after only playing in one tournament in four months. "It's all a progression," she said. "It's always going to take time to rebuild. I feel like I'm improving from day to day. I play much better than I did a month ago . . . I'll go practice after my match. I'm really in the process right now. As many matches as I can play, I'll play."
It took her three sets to beat Misaki Doi in her opening match. There were times she looked frustrated at her inability to play up to her standard, and she wasn't hesitant to curse at herself for a bad shot.
"I'm my own toughest opponent," she said then. "I curse at myself. I pump myself up. Whatever it takes to do, I don't really give a damn how it looks really because when I'm in the moment I need to be me. Whatever helps me be out there and fight and give my best on every single point, that's what I am going to do."