Out-of-sorts Ivanovic seeking Aus Open tonic
Serbian pin-up Ana Ivanovic is hoping to get her career back on track at the Australian Open after a roller-coaster 2008 that by turns dazzled and bemused her legions of fans.sports Updated: Jan 15, 2009 11:01 IST
Serbian pin-up Ana Ivanovic is hoping to get her career back on track at the Australian Open after a roller-coaster 2008 that by turns dazzled and bemused her legions of fans.
Ivanovic stormed to the final of last year's tournament at Melbourne Park, losing narrowly to Russia's Maria Sharapova, then maintaining her momentum to clinch a breakthrough Grand Slam title at the French Open.
The glamorous brunette finally appeared to have answered questions about her big-match temperament and fitness to justify the hype declaring her the next big thing in women's tennis.
But then the wheels fell off when Ivanovic entered Wimbledon as the top seed ranked No 1 in the world only to be thrashed by China's Zheng Jie in the third round.
Her slump continued at the US Open, where American qualifier Julie Coin eliminated her to score the biggest upset ever recorded in the women's draw of the tournament during the open era.
Ivanovic blamed the setbacks on injury, particularly a troublesome cyst on her thumb, but admits they sparked a period of introspection in a player normally well known for her sunny disposition.
"It was very hard and some losses were very tough, a tough learning experience, but I learnt it's also important to accept your losses, learn from them and move on," she said.
"I learnt a lot about myself on and off the court, because once I was injured I was still 24 hours a day thinking about tennis -- 'What shall I do?
"Shall I improve something or can I practise today?', and it was just very overwhelming for me and I found it very hard to deal with, because I'm a very emotional person as well.
"It was kind of draining me."
Since her French Open triumph, Ivanovic has won just 12 of 23 matches, including crashing out to Amelie Mauresmo in this month's Brisbane International, where she said she "didn't have the energy to dig deep".
While Australian bookies rate her only a 10-1 shot of snaring her second Grand Slam in Melbourne Park, the 21-year-old remains positive she can still win the maintains she still has the game to win.
Ivanovic can also count on the strong support that helped sweep her into last year's final, with locally-based relatives cheering her on in the stands and neutrals regarding her as a crowd favourite.
"Definitely. I think I have a potential to do it, I worked very hard and I feel very, very fit, and those first couple of matches I was pretty happy with my game," she said after the Brisbane International.
"Still, it's different when you practise and you go out there and play a match, so in the next week I just want to play lots of points and get my mind set for competition again.
"I just want to work a little bit more on my serve. I need to compete and play a lot of matches, so that's something I look forward to in Melbourne."