Imperious Venus provides ultimate test for Ivanovic

For the last 12 months Ana Ivanovic has been the great under-achiever of women's tennis. When she won the French Open last June the Serb appeared best placed to fill the void left by the retirement of Justine Henin, but after a year in which she has changed coaches, struggled with injury and suffered a series of embarrassing early losses in Grand Slam tournaments, she is down to No 12 in the world rankings.

Ivanovic came to Wimbledon having just ditched Craig Kardon only four months into his job as her new coach. When she had to save two match points before beating Lucie Hradecka, the world No 58, in last week's first round a prolonged stay did not seem likely, but Ivanovic has improved with each match and reached the last 16 with a morale-boosting straight-sets victory over Sam Stosur, who reached the semi-finals of the French Open.

Now comes the ultimate test. In today's fourth round Ivanovic meets Venus Williams, the five-times champion, who has swept through her first three matches with the ease of a vendor selling cut-price strawberries in the Wimbledon queue. Her victory over Carla Suraez Navarro on Saturday was her 17th in a row here.

Ivanovic won their last encounter, at last year's Australian Open, but Williams had recorded five successive victories before that, including one in straight sets in the Wimbledon semi-finals two years ago.

"I can take a lot from that match," Ivanovic said as she recalled that meeting here. "She likes to go for her first shot. She likes to dominate the points. I have to make a lot of returns. Obviously, it's going to be important for me to serve well because she has great first serves. If I can hold on to my serve and then put pressure on her that would be a key."

The first week here suggested that Venus and her sister Serena could be on course to meet in the final for the fourth time in seven years. Like her sister, Serena has yet to drop a set. Today she meets Daniela Hantuchova, who has already beaten Laura Robson, last year's junior champion, and Jie Zheng, a semi-finalist 12 months ago.

Amelie Mauresmo has never re-scaled the heights of 2006, when she won the title here, but after two mediocre years the Frenchwoman has rediscovered a degree of her past form. In her fourth-round match today, second on Centre Court, Mauresmo faces Dinara Safina, who would be a daunting prospect as world No 1 but for the fact that she has always struggled on grass. However, the Russian has made it to the second week here for the first time in seven attempts and has yet to drop a set.

Melanie Oudin, the 17-year-old American qualifier who beat Jelena Jankovic on Saturday, now faces Agnieszka Radwanska, the world No 14, while 19-year-old Sabine Lisicki, conqueror of Svetlana Kuznetsova, meets Caroline Wozniacki, the world No 9.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam