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Kleybanova grabs spotlight at French Open

Kleybanova grabs spotlight at French Open

After ousting former champion Ana Ivanovic at the French Open, Alisa Kleybanova wasn't going to let anyone spoil the moment.
The easy 6-3, 6-0 win over Ivanovic on Thursday propelled Kleybanova into the third round for the first time at Roland Garros, though she's gone one round better at 2008 Wimbledon and the 2009 Australian Open.
At the news conference, rushed to explain the decline of Ivanovic, who won the French Open and reached No. 1 in 2008 and hasn't achieved much else since, Kleybanova was as quick to turn the attention back on her deserving 20-year-old self.
"You know, I also think it's difficult to play against me," she said. "I'm a powerful player, with fast balls. And I took my opportunities all the time today. She's a tough opponent to play against. But when I go on court, I'm not thinking about my opponent's problems."
Kleybanova has contributed to Ivanovic's slide by beating the Serb three times in their four matchups, including in the Fed Cup for Russia in February.
"Of course, when I play against someone very strong and powerful, I try to give her as less time as possible," Kleybanova said. "For me, it was very important to make her feel uncomfortable with the balls, and to take out her timing. I was just focusing on what I was doing. It was the key today."
Kleybanova, coached by her mother in Moscow until she was 13, cracked the top 10 rankings in February then won her first career title in Kuala Lumpur, beating compatriot and two-time Grand Slam finalist Elena Dementieva in the final.
But a foot injury sidelined her in April and she came into the French Open seeded 28th with realistic hopes.
"I have different goals. To stay No. 28 in the world and to be at No. 1 straight away is quite difficult to achieve," she said. "I would say I'm trying to reach one goal at a time. For the moment, I want to focus on the tournament. For this year, I will really try to get into the top 20 and to stay in there."
As for Ivanovic, Kleybanova was sympathetic.
"She's trying to come back, trying to build up her game again. It's gonna take a long time," she said. "(Tennis) is very difficult for everybody, especially when you have been No. 1 and won a Grand Slam. You have pressure, all the world is looking up to you. It's very difficult but I'm pretty sure she will keep going. Everybody has some tough times during a career. It's impossible to always be at the top, you have ups and downs."


Updated : 2021-05-08 02:36 GMT+08:00