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Despite win, Ivanovic notably struggling to regain form

8/27/2008 - Tennis

1. The No. 1 women's seed won't win the title: Perhaps even the woman herself, Ana Ivanovic, wouldn't argue with that. The Serbian starlet looked sluggish in a three-set win over Russian Vera Dushevina, the first-round encounter nevertheless featuring Ivanovic's usual fist pumps and gyrations returning second serves.

Ivanovic missed the Olympics with a right thumb injury and resumed practice only about a week ago. It turns out a few cysts were causing inflammation.

"I'm very, very happy because just to be here and to be able to compete, for me, it's already a great achievement," Ivanovic said. "After the Olympics, it was obviously very disappointing. When I had to pull out, it was probably one of the hardest days of my career so far."

Ivanovic, in the same quarter as Dinara Safina -- the hottest player on the tour -- flew from Beijing to Australia to visit her doctor, who diagnosed the problem.

"I went all over the world last couple of months trying to find what is the reason and to solve the problem I had," she said. "I think I can have the whole next year free" thanks to her frequent-flier points.

2. Safin doesn't know the rules: You'd think two-time Grand Slam champion Marat Safin, pushing 30, would know the rules by now. Apparently not.

Safin was incensed when he was called for a foot fault, on a second serve, at 4-5 in the fourth set against American Vince Spadea. Safin engaged in a heated conversation with chair umpire Carlos Bernardes -- the ump in James Blake's ill-tempered match at the Olympics against Fernando Gonzalez -- that settled nothing.

Spadea got a set point and converted to force a fifth set, and Safin soon clashed with tournament referee Brian Earley at the changeover.

He recovered to take the fifth.

"If you are doing a foot fault on a second serve, first of all, you need to get a warning," the world according to Safin began. "So, basically, you're making a foot fault? 'Just watch out, next time I'm going to call you.' This is how it should be."

Safin said he'd "never" been called for a second-serve foot fault previously, uh, except once, at this summer's Cincinnati Masters.

"They want me to be happy and they want me to be great in the press room, like be nice, speak nice and all these things," Safin said. "Why should I?"

Because he can't help himself.

3. Haas has still got it: When asked at the Toronto Masters last month why he continues playing despite a constantly aching serving shoulder, hunky German Tommy Haas said he loved the game and giving fans pleasure.

It showed Tuesday.

Reconstructed more than the bionic man, the 30-year-old veteran could have packed it in when he trailed enigmatic Frenchman Richard Gasquet in a tasty opener. Haas, though, kept going and downed his much younger -- but less resilient -- opponent 6-7 (3), 6-4, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 in more than 3½ hours.

Gilles Muller, who piled misery on Andy Roddick at the U.S. Open three years ago but hasn't done anything noteworthy for a while, is Haas' next foe.

4. Spadea is afraid of ya: One of the most flamboyant players on the tour, Spadea, another veteran at 34, hasn't fared well in his past three matches that went the distance at Slams.

Apart from losing to Safin, Spadea, an author known for his rap exploits, blew a two-set lead to another 30-something, Swede Thomas Johansson, in the opening round of Wimbledon and was defeated by local favorite Julien Benneteau in Paris at the same stage.

"I've lost three five-setters in the French, Wimbledon and the Open, so can't be liking that right now," Spadea said. "Just got to step up my work ethic and maybe commitment and see if that works. If not, you know, look at my game or got to look at my name, you know, change it," he added, drawing laughter from the press corps.

Spadea's five-set dramas this season began at the Australian Open, when he downed Radek Stepanek and Denis Gremelmayr in the first two rounds.

5. Karlovic is in one of those moods: When ace king Ivo Karlovic is on a roll, watch out. Just look at what happened to Roger Federer at the Cincinnati Masters.

Karlovic blasted 28 aces, about two per game, in a 7-5, 6-1, 6-4 win over Czech qualifier Jan Minar on Court 5.

The 6-foot-10 Croat is, if the seedings stick, due to face world No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the fourth round. The round of 16 is foreign territory for Karlovic in a major, however. He has been there only once in 21 previous attempts.

Ravi Ubha is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com.