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Ana Ivanovic

 

Ana Ivanovic’s performance timeline at the Australian Open has been eerily representative of her whole career.

There were the promising results of her first three visits to Melbourne Park - a second round and two third-round finishes - as a teenager from 2005 to 2007, mirroring her encouraging progress on the WTA Tour as she began to establish herself as a threat to the big names.

There was her stunning run to the 2008 final, which preceded by just five months her victory at Roland Garros and ascent to world No.1.

There were her forgettable third, second and first round exits of 2009 to 2011, sub-par results which coincided with a dip outside the world's top 60 in mid-2010 and finishing two of those three seasons ranked outside the top 20.

And in her past two campaigns Down Under, solid fourth-round finishes were in line with her return to the world’s top 15 and the fact she now hovers consistently around that mark.

The Australian Open seems something of an indicator as to how Ivanovic's subsequent season will map out.

Already in Melbourne this year, the No.14 seed has progressed to a fourth round clash with Serena Williams, and says it's one of her favourite places to play.

“I enjoy coming here and competing,” said Ivanovic, who once dated Australian golfing champion Adam Scott and has relatives who live in the bayside Melbourne suburb of Mentone.

Ivanovic’s history against Williams is not strong, however, and she'll be hoping for her best showing against the world No.1.

Her preparation for the clash has been solid.

The 26-year-old reached the fourth round of the US Open and then closed out her 2013 season with a string of impressive results, including a final in Linz, quarterfinals in Moscow and semifinals at the WTA Tournament of Champions in Sofia, an event at which, notably, she beat Stosur.

And she opened her 2014 season in even better style, winning the title in Auckland with a hard-fought victory over fellow former world No.1 and seven-time major champion Venus Williams.

Add to that her wins at Melbourne Park this week, and it’s a consistency that, up until now, has been missing from her game since she was a dominant force in women’s tennis all those years ago.

As well as an increased maturity and ability to manage both the public’s and her own high expectations, her recent resurgence can be attributed to positive changes to the team she now has around her. After years hopping on and off the “coaching carousel” and constantly tinkering with the make-up of her entourage, Ivanovic finally feels she’s achieved a happy balance.

“I try to explain to people, not every coach is good for every player. Sometimes coach can look good on paper. But when you team up with someone, it doesn't work out that way … I made some mistakes because of this,” she admitted.

“But I learned. Many people were doubtful, but I had confidence, and I still do.

“My coach (Nemanja Kontic) really understands tennis well. We really see where my game should be at … they (my team) are pushing me forward. That's where I want to be. We really work well together.”

With a return to the fourth round at Melbourne Park already and a chance to challenge Serena, 2014 - as history indicates - stands to be very rosy year for the popular Serb.

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Post-Tournament
Saturday, 23 August 2014
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