Former World Number one, Ana Ivanovic, told GiveMeSport that she is a better player now than when she was at the summit of the ladies game because of the new generation of talent that is pushing the boundries and providing a stern test to the more experienced players.
Ana was at the pinnacle of the ladies tennis world in 2008 following a surge up the world rankings and a first Grand Slam win at the French Open.
After a challenging four years, the Serbian superstar has found herself edging closer to the top once again following a stunning return to form, in what has been one of her best seasons for some time.
3 WTA WINS IN 2014
Her resurgence has been nothing short of spectacular, with tournament wins 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.
She has been one of the real stand-out players on the Tour in 2014, and at 26-years of age, it appears experience has moved her game to the next level and provided the platform for another assault on the number one ranking and further Grand Slam titles.
Easier said than done when you look at the competition currently around on the WTA Tour!
Established campaigners like Ivanovic, Radwanska, Sharapova, Williams and Li Na to mention a few, are no longer guaranteed success on the Tour, as snapping at their heels is the next generation which are carrying the ladies game into a new, and quite possibly one of the most exciting era's in the history of the sport.
By Ana's own admission, the emergence of players like Genie Bouchard, Romanian's Simona Halep, Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys and Camila Giorgi, has been exciting for the sport and have pushed the established players to the next level.
"I do think that it’s a very exciting time for women’s tennis," she said.
"There were a few years where you didn’t see too many new players breaking though, but now you have those players you mentioned, especially Halep, and also now Muguruza and Bencic, and they’re providing great competition for the more established players. Women’s tennis gets tougher each year, because each year there are new, hungry players coming up,"
Ana admitted that the competition is without question one of the contributing factors to her stunning return to form.
"I really feel like I am a better player now than I was when I was No.1 in the world. It’s because the standards have improved all-around, each player has pushed the others to get better, and this will continue happening."
On those comments alone, followers of the WTA will know that the game is, and will be in a very health place for at least the next 10-years.
IVANOVIC DEFEATING WILLIAMS IN AUSTRALIA
World number one, Serena Williams has of course been the leading player of her generation, one of the best ever, however one senses that the 17-times Grand Slam Champion has lost that aura of invincibility about her, especially in the Grand Slams, as Ana pointed out.
"Serena has been so dominant, and when she finally decides to call it a day I would think that women’s tennis would be a bit more open. Although, saying that, the last four Grand Slams have been won by different players…"
If Ana Ivanovic has things her own way over the next few weeks, then perhaps it will be five different winners over the last five Grand Slams.