Hard times are behind me, says Ivanovic

Ana Ivanovic believes she is a stronger player than when she won the French Open two years ago and ascended to the number one ranking.

Linz (Austria): Ana Ivanovic believes she is a stronger player than when she won the French Open two years ago and ascended to the number one ranking.

Her career then went into a nosedive and it has been a case of one step forward and one step back as she sought the consistency she needed to climb back up the rankings.

But her confidence has been boosted by an impressive week in Beijing where she overcame Elena Dementieva and then tested new world number one Caroline Wozniacki, while offering plenty of evidence that she might have finally rediscovered her game.

Although she intended to rest this week, Ivanovic didn`t hesitate when she received a desperate call from the WTA event in Linz for her to step in as replacement for the injured Serena Williams.

"I`m really happy I got the call and the opportunity to play here because this is the last title I won and I really have a good time here," said Ivanovic.

"In Beijing I really felt I was playing well and I thought why waste a good game.

"It is a bit rushed and changing to indoors from outdoors and also the time difference, but I feel I`m in good shape and I just want to keep on playing.

"I feel my game is getting close to where it used to be and I`m even more aggressive, and experience-wise I`m much more mature and a more complete player now.

"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."

While Ivanovic shows signs of being able to return to where she used to be, the same cannot be said of Frenchwoman Alize Cornet, who slumped to a 6-1, 6-3 defeat against Czech qualifier Renata Voracova.

The 20-year old was ranked as high as 11 in February last year, but she has been beaten in the first round of every Grand Slam this year, her ranking sank to 88 and she has also
lost in the first round of several ITF Challenger events this season.

"Two years ago I was just coming up. I was playing really well and the girls didn`t know me and were pretty surprised," said Cornet.

"Then they learned how to play against me. I lost a little bit of my motivation in 2009 and I wasn`t feeling happy on the court.

"This year I started to be motivated again but when you get low on confidence it`s really tough to get through that."

She has two less seeds to worry about as third seed Alona Bondarenko of Ukraine was beaten 6-2, 6-2 by Italy`s Roberta Vinci, and fourth seeded Slovak Dominika Cibulkova was upset 6-2, 6-4 by Greek qualifier Eleni Daniilidou.


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