Ana Ivanovic searching to rediscover lost form

Martin Caparrotta
By Martin Caparrotta
PHOTO: UNICEF Serbia

Photo: UNICEF Serbia

In 2008, Ana Ivanovic reached two Grand Slam finals, won the French Open, and shot up to the dizzying heights of number one in the world.

But since her triumph at Roland Garros 13 months ago, her form has dipped enormously. The 21-year-old’s latest Grand Slam challenge was ended at Wimbledon in June when she was forced to retire against Venus Williams due to a thigh injury.

As the Serb dropped out of The Championships in London, questions have been raised as to how a player who was at the top of her game so recently, can seemingly slip into a free fall.

Ivanovic has all the makings of an international tennis star. She possesses a rare blend of looks and ability that can help to promote the women’s game immeasurably, and when she got to number one in the world, many expected her to flourish under the spotlight.

But her results nosedived after her victory in Paris last year, crashing out of Wimbledon in the early stages despite being the number one seed. She then was forced to withdraw from the Beijing Olympics with a thumb injury, a moment she described as one of the worst of her career.

In early 2009, Ivanovic split from her coach, Sven Groeneveld. It was a decision that may have been fuelled by Groeneveld’s affiliation with Adidas that prevented him from being able to attend matches in which Ivanovic was facing an Adidas-sponsored player.

It was clear that Ivanovic was in need of a coach that could support her at all the games, no matter how big or small.

She appointed coach Craig Kardon as Groeneveld’s replacement, but after crashing out of the French Open in the fourth round back in May, Ivanovic chose to split with Kardon after just three months. These are moves are of a player desperate to find her feet again, but they also show the awareness of a glaring problem.

At the moment Ivanovic is a player clearly lacking in confidence, but recently she has been also unfortunate with injuries at decisive moments.

And despite all of the negativity surrounding her drop down the rankings, Ivanovic has remained in typically high-spirits. Prior to her fourth round tie at Wimbledon, she declared that she was playing the ‘best tennis of her career’, and will be sure to take positives from her early exit.

Ivanovic is still ranked outside the top ten at number 11 in the world and as the hard court season looms, she will be hoping to rediscover the form that made 2008 – the first half at least – such a memorable year.

Despite her injury setback at Wimbledon, she is expected to return to action on August 3 at the Women’s Tennis Championships in Los Angeles – the first event in the series leading up to the US Open.

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