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Ivanovic slips through but fails to sparkle

DOING enough but failing to dazzle, Ana Ivanovic safely navigated the first round of the Australian Open today with a 7-5 6-3 win over Julia Goerges.

The 21-year-old Serb, runner-up at Melbourne Park 12 months ago, struggled with her serve, had difficulty finding her range on groundstrokes and was generally given the runaround by her 107th-ranked opponent before squeaking through in 102 minutes.

If the mark of a champion is to win when playing poorly, the former world number one could be stamping her name on the Open trophy in a little under two weeks' time.

"I don't expect myself to step on the court and play perfect tennis from very first moment," Ivanovic told reporters.

"You just want to give yourself the best possible chance and give time to work yourself into the tournament.

"I'm very pleased to have a victory, obviously. I took some time to adjust to rhythm and everything, to slowly get into the match, because I never played against her before. Actually never seen her play."

Goerges had been making her main draw Australian Open debut but was in no way cowed by the experience.

Moving well and hitting the ball sweetly, she had fifth seed Ivanovic on the back foot early on before allowing herself to be reeled in.

In the final analysis it was her inability to close out the big points which cost her dearly -- the 20-year-old German converted just two of seven break points in the contest.

Ivanovic, who suffered a stomach illness during her warm-up tournament in Brisbane, will next meet Italy's Alberta Brianti.

"There are still some things I want to work on," Ivanovic said. "I just feel I need some more match play, yeah, matches in front of big crowds.

"That's something that's been missing last couple of months in my game.

"But otherwise I feel very confident. Today I wasn't doing so much stepping in as I probably would like to. That's something that I worked on in off-season.

"Hopefully, you know, in my next match I can implement that."


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