Sydney: Former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic believes the strength of women`s tennis means that anyone in the draw can win the Australian Open.
Ivanovic`s preparations for Melbourne Park suffered on Sunday, however, with a 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 loss to Lucie Safarova in the opening round at the Sydney International.
But the out-of-sorts Serb retained belief she would be one of the dozens of players in the hunt to win the Australian Open, starting on January 16.
The first round loss for Ivanovic, the former world number one and 2008 French Open champion, followed an early second round loss at Brisbane last week.
Sunday, she was left to rue missing a regulation smash at 5-5 in the first set tiebreaker, revealing the unforced error played on her mind for the remainder of the match.
"The whole first set came down to that one point," Ivanovic told reporters.
"Obviously it happens, it was just a very bad moment for it to happen. It`s a shot I feel very confident at. It`s definitely a little bit disappointing, but it happens and it took me a lot of time to recover.”
"It`s tough. I keep replaying that shot in my mind throughout the whole match. I felt like that was the turning point. But still I came out in the second set and I served really well the first couple of games and had some chances.”
"I feel my game is still there. I have lost but it gives me time to go to Melbourne with plenty of time to tune up a few things”.
"I had a good off-season and I just want to try and keep at it. It would be great to have a result straight away but sometimes it`s a process and it takes time."
The four women`s majors had four different winners last year: Kim Clijsters at the Australian Open, Li Na at the French Open, Petra Kvitova at Wimbledon and Sam Stosur at the U.S. Open.
With the Australian Open beginning at Melbourne Park next week, Ivanovic believes the number of good players on tour make it hard to call a winner at Melbourne Park.
"When I first started on tour I felt like the first few rounds the seeds would have an easy match," the Serb said.
"Now from the first round you have tough opponents. Everyone is playing well and aggressive and you really have to be tough from the first match on.”
"Anyone, basically, can win. That`s exciting for everyone because everyone who is in the draw has the potential to go far."
Elsewhere in Sydney Sunday, Australia`s Jelena Dokic trounced compatriot Isabella Holland 6-0 6-0 on Ken Rosewall Arena on a day when none of the seeds made an appearance. The big guns will be wheeled out from Monday.
"We all have days when it doesn`t go right but it`s professional sport, you can`t really be feeling sorry for anyone," Dokic said of her opponent.
Nine of the top ten women in the world are in a high-quality Sydney field. Top seed in the men`s draw is Argentina`s world number 11 Juan Martin del Potro.