New York: Ana Ivanovic gave the clearest indication yet that she is getting back to top form with a blistering 6-3, 6-0 win over Zheng Jie of China in the US Open second round on Wednesday.
The 22-year-old Serb beauty has been mired in a rut since winning the French Open in 2008 and taking the world number one spot.
She failed to cope with the sudden celebrity and status and saw her world ranking plummet throughout 2009.
But after taking on Steffi Graf`s former coach, Heinz Gunthardt, as her mentor in February this year, Ivanovic has been gradually working her way back.
Unseeded for New York, she swept past Zheng, the 23rd seed, who reached the Australian Open semi-finals in January, in just 56 minutes on the Arthur Ashe Centre Court.
Should she win her third-round tie against the winner of the all-French affair between Marion Bartoli and Virginie Razzano, she could meet defending champion Kim Clijsters in the fourth round.
Ivanovic said that she had been unable to train properly in the 10 days leading up to New York due to an ankle injury that is still troubling her.
"I was not too happy coming into the Open with such a break, but I am just so happy that I am here and can compete," she said.
"I feel like I am playing like a top-10 player and my confidence is there, which is huge for me.”
"I have a new team team around me and I have brought a lot more confidence into the US Open and the tournaments leading up to it.”
On another say of soaring temperatures at Flushing Meadows, there was drama on the Grandstand Court when 10th seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus collapsed during her tie against Argentina veteran Gisela Dulko.
With temperatures climbing into the 90s Fahrenheit (30s Celsius) for a third straight day, Azarenka quickly fell 1-5 down after 34 minutes against her more experienced South American opponent.
The 21-year-old then collapsed behind the baseline after Dulko had smacked a forehand past her and she received treatment for several minutes before retiring from the tie.
Dulko will next play rising Russian star Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who ended the hopes of Sania Mirza of India 6-2, 6-4.
The 23-year-old from Hyderabad, who is battling back after dropping out of the world top 100 due to a serious wrist injury, had raised hopes with a fine run of four wins in a row in New York coming through the qualifiers and a first-round tie against Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal.
But in the 20th-seeded Pavlyuchenkova, who has two title wins this year and who reached the semi-finals in Cincinnati in the buildup to New York, she came up against a big hitter who is targetting the world top 10 this year.
Mirza was quickly a break of serve down at 2-3 before squandering two break points in the sixth game with some wayward shot-making when it mattered most.
The 19-year-old Pavlyuchenkova made her pay the price by holding for 4-2 and then breaking serve again. The Russian comfortably served out for the set in just 32 minutes.
Mirza kept pace on serve until 3-2 in the second set and was given fresh hope when her opponent needed a medical timeout for treatment to her right forearm.
She immediately grabbed her chance by breaking Pavlyuchenkova for the second time in the match to establish a 4-2 lead.
Sadly for the Indian player, she promptly dropped her own serve in the next game.
That proved to be fatal for Mirza as the Russian pounded her into submission by winning the next three games to reach the third round.