Dream Classic final to be served up in Auckland

DAVID LONG
Last updated 05:04 04/01/2014
Venus Williams
PETER MEECHAM/Fairfax NZ
VENUS WILLIAMS: The tennis star says she will continue her aggressive approach in Auckland.
Ana Ivanovic standard
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DREAM MATCHUP: Ana Ivanovic will face Venus Williams in the ASB Classic final.

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For one final time this week, Ana Ivanovic will tuck into an unusual breakfast of salmon, rice and eggs. 

The finalist for this year's ASB Classic has a ritual where she eats the same breakfast every morning during a tournament and somehow she's chose to go with such an odd combination in Auckland.

So today, she would have get into this meal while thinking about her match against Venus Williams today.

''I have the same breakfast every day. I said, one more day and then I can change my breakfast,'' Ivanovic said after defeating Kirsten Flipkens 6-0 7-6 in her semifinal yesterday.

''The whole week I have been waking up early, around 6am, have a coffee and read the newspaper or a book.

''My dad is like, 'I don't understand how you can eat salmon for breakfast.' 

''I have salmon and rice every morning and some eggs. It is quite weird.

''I really love fish and salmon here just tastes amazing. Mum and dad have been having yoghurt and muesli but I have to have salmon.''

Williams didn't get to play her match yesterday because her opponent, Jamie Hampton, pulled out with a hip injury in the morning.

While that was a disappointment for those who came along to the ASB Tennis Arena yesterday, it has created the best match up for a final in the tournament's history.

While the likes over Lindsay Davenport, Agnieszka Radwanska, and Elena Dementieva have won this tournament in the past, they all beat lesser lights.

To have two top draw cards in the final like Ivanovic and Williams makes this the greatest match up for a women's match this country has ever seen.

Ivanovic's record against Williams is pretty appalling though, in their nine meetings the Serb has only won once, at the Australian Open in 2008 and she admits that she's found it hard to cope against her huge serve.

''Both Serena and Venus, I struggled against them in the past because they do have a big serve and sometimes that's overwhelming to see that coming at you,'' she said.

''Over the years you get used to it a bit, you mature and you get calm, you handle the situations differently.

''There is no doubt it's going to be a very tough match and it's a matter of still doing the things I've been working on and still trying to impose my game.''

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While Ivanovic's serve isn't as big as Williams', it has been going well for her.

Back in 2008 when she was making it to Grand Slam finals it was her main weapon and it's no coincidence that when she's struggled with it in more recent years, particularly the toss, that's when her game fell to pieces.

''I really wanted to get the percentage up and I feel like it can be my weapon again,'' she said. ''It used to be one of the best shots I had. I've worked hard on it and I look forward to serving the same way against such a player.''

Ivanovic is going for her 12th title  today, for Williams it would be her 45th.

But while Ivanovic is behind on that stat, she has appeared in one more recently, in Linz in October, Williams hasn't got to the biggest game at a tournament since Luxembourg exactly a year earlier.

''The finals are very special,'' Ivanovic said. ''The final stage of a tournament when it's quiet and you feel the buildup, it's exciting and there's no secret to it.

''There are nerves, good nerves and energy and a lot of emotions and it's what you work hard for. You want to go out there and embrace it.''

Both players have the experience to step up today and both would be worthy winners, but Ivanovic has been the slightly more clinical player and for that reason, she might edge it out over three sets. 

- Fairfax Media

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