Former world number one and French Open Champion, Ana Ivanovic, told GiveMeSport ahead of Wimbledon, that she is ready to capitalise on one of the best seasons she has had for some time, and start challenging for the Grand Slams again.
The Serbian superstar turned professional at the age of just 15-years of age. She won her first WTA Tour title barely two years later at the Canberra International, a clear indication that the ladies game was a going to be blessed for years to come by another outstanding talent.
Her rise towards the top of the ladies game continued in 2005, she managed to reach the semi-finals of a handful of tournaments, the quarter-finals at Indian Wells and most notably the quarter-finals at the French Open, which included wins against Amelie Mauresmo and clay-court specialist Francesca Schiavone.
In 2006, her talent flourish even more as she finished the year just outside the top 10, a remarkable achievement at just 18-years old, and one that saw her register wins against Mauresmo, Martina Hingis and Jelena Jankovic, to name a few.
FRENCH OPEN TITLE
The platform had been laid, and 2007 saw Ivanovic enter the top 10 and reach her first Grand Slam final at the french Open where she lost in straight seats to Justine Henin.
That experience no doubt stood her in good stead, as exactly a year later she went on to defeat Dinara Safina in straight sets at the French Open for her first Slam title, and in the process claimed the number one ranking.
The last four to five years has been a stern test for the most glamorous player on the ladies Tour, her development almost coming to a standstill through a host of inconsistent performances.
Everything the young Ivanovic touched in her early years turned to gold, and perhaps the tough period she went through in the years after reaching the dizzy heights of winning a Grand Slam, was something the now 26-year old needed to go through before scaling the heights again.
BACK TO FORM
Ivanovic's form this season has been at times superb, and all the signs are that a wiser and more mature player is taking to the court, and one that is ready to challenge for the big prizes once again.
Ana has three tournament wins to her name so far this year, in Auckland, Monterrey and Birmingham, including a quarter-final at the Australian Open, a semi-final in Rome and a hard fought three-set final against Maria Sharapova in Stuttgart.
Her ability to register winning results against the top players, most notably, the Williams' sisters, Sharapova, Kerber, Jankovic and Wozniacki to mention a few, is what has stood out and will without question provide her a great deal of confidence in her endevour to reach the summits once again.
BEATING SERENA WILLIAMS IN AUSTRALIA
When asked to give an appraisal on her season so far, the Grand Slam winner responded in a quietly confident, realistic and very focused manner.
"It’s been a very good season so far, obviously my best in quite a long time. I’ve won a lot of matches, already a few tournaments, and most importantly I’ve beaten the top players. The Stuttgart final was a tough defeat but it was satisfying to beat Sharapova soon after in Rome."
"The next step is to go far in a Grand Slam. I did quite well in Australia but I want to be challenging for Grand Slam titles again. I knew I had a great chance in Paris and that affected me a little – I put too much pressure on myself and found it hard to relax."
"So for Wimbledon I want to try not to think too much about winning it. Instead, I’ll focus only on each match. It’s like a mini-mission every couple of days. You get into a rhythm and think only about your next opponent, not about going far in the tournament."
Ana's preparations coming into SW19 could not have gone any better after lifting her 14th WTA Tour title, and first on grass, at the Ageon Classic in Birmingham, barely 10 days ago.
The superb result has hopefully silenced all the critics that believed, the 2007 Wimbledon semi-finalists' game is not suitable for grass!
Ana told GiveMeSport: “It was a perfect week, almost like a dream come true really. I didn’t really think it’s possible to win a tournament like that, with so many quick matches."
"That’s not to say it was easy, there were a few tight sets and I actually lost the first 2-3 points in my first service game of most matches. That adds to my satisfaction – that I was able to be so focused and even a little bit ruthless too." “It seems like the perfect preparation for Wimbledon. The next challenge is to take my Birmingham form into the Championships.”
Ana is seeded 11th for the Championships began her quest with a straight sets win over 2010 French Open Champion Francesca Schiavone.
Next up for the Serbian will be China's Zie Zheng.
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