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Ivanovic: The only way is up


 

Originally published on: 13/10/10 17:31

The cracks are smoothing over for Ana Ivanovic. The smile is back, the ball toss steady and, most importantly, the results are starting to come.

Replacing the injured Serena Williams in Linz this week, the world No.29 is back in Austria – where she defeated Vera Zvonareva for the Generali Ladies Linz title in 2008 – in buoyant mood.

“I’m really happy I got the call and the opportunity to play here because this is the last title I won. I was very excited to come back here,” said the 22-year-old Serb, who has good reason to be optimistic after her positive form in Beijing last week. At the China Open, she defeated world No.9 Elena Dementieva before going toe to toe with eventual champion Caroline Wozniacki in the quarter-finals.

“In Beijing, I really felt I was playing well,” said Belgrade-born Ivanovic. “I feel I’m in good shape and I just want to keep on playing.”

Ivanovic, who claimed her maiden Grand Slam title at Roland Garros and topped the WTA rankings in 2008, sunk well outside the top 50 earlier this year after losing confidence in her game and struggling to string victories together. 

But after hauling her ranking back up in the direction of the top 20 after reaching the last four in Rome and Cincinnati, Ivanovic believes she’s beginning to strike the ball at the kind of level that saw her top the rankings two years ago.

“I feel my game is getting close to where it used to be and I’m even more aggressive now. Experience-wise I’m much more mature and a more complete player now,” said Ivanovic.

“In Beijing I had a few really good matches against tough opponents and I got that mental strength back and was pulling through tough matches.”

Confidence has been the stumbling block for the Serb in recent times. Her serve – one of the biggest on tour on its day – crumbled all too often as nerves affected her ball toss. But now back on the winning trail, Ivanovic believes she’s firmly back on track.

“Having more wins under your belt helps build your confidence, but its a long process. At one point I was not really aware of that. I wanted to have results and get back to the top straight away but sometimes it takes longer than you anticipate. It was a big thing for me to realise it takes time and you have to be patient.

“There will be some up and downs until to get to that level where you feel comfortable playing against top players all the time,” she added, “but I feel very confident about my game and my fitness.”

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