Paris: Ana Ivanovic, who had the world at
her feet after her sensational 2008 French Open win, admits
she cried herself to sleep at night when her career went into
an embarrassing tailspin.
The 22-year-old Serbian beauty with the girl-next-door
looks and the multi-million dollar deals, shot to number one
in the world after her Roland Garros triumph.
But then the dream turned sour.
Illness and a loss of form in 2009 saw her ranking slip
and she finished outside of the top 20 for the first time
Things didn`t look much better in January this year when
she left the Australian Open in tears.
"It was no fun at all. There were lots of tears and lots
of hard times and lots of doubts and fears, everything, but
it`s something that you learn. You overcome it and it makes
you a better player and person after that," said Ivanovic, who
started her 2010 Roland Garros campaign with a straight sets
win over Taiwan`s Chang Kai-Chen.
Ivanovic came into Paris unseeded and ranked at 42 but
buoyed by a run to the semi-finals of the Rome claycourt
event, beating top tenners Victoria Azarenka and Elena
Dementieva on the way.
She gives credit to her work with Heinz Gunthardt, who
coached Steffi Graf, as part of the reason for her more
optimistic frame of mind.
"I think I`m a completely different player than I was a
couple of years ago. The improvements are immense. And since I
started working with Heinz, it`s really been every day I could
"We worked a lot on my serve and also on my groundstrokes
to be more free and actually swing through the ball better.
It`s just making me feel more comfortable in the court."
Next up for Ivanovic is a second-round clash with
Russia`s Alisa Kleybanova, the 28th seed.
It will be another test, but the former champion believes
a return to the top 10 is just a matter of time.
"I really feel I belong at the top and I can get back to
the top," she said.
"It`s just the little steps and trusting myself when I`m
out there, when I`m hitting the ball, just trusting the
movement and the stroke.”
"So I think it`s also a process of just doing it over and
over again until it becomes a habit."