Tampa Bay Sports Day

Ana Ivanovic Hopes To Shine In OZ

For the first time in a while, Ana Ivanovic can be considered a Grand Slam contender.

She comes into OZ as the No. 5 seed with thoughts of that elusive championship on her mind.

“Last year actually I also had a quite good start,” Ivanovic said. “But I felt this year the level was a little bit different. We played I think a very good match in the finals. It was really high level for the first tournament of the season. So definitely feeling good coming into this week. You know, like I spoke before, last year, especially the last three Grand Slams, I didn’t really do as well as I hoped for. I really want to take it one step at a time and enjoy because I think my tennis is at a different level than it was last year.”

We heard this back in August at the US Open, but she lost in the second round to Karolína Plíšková, so maybe it’s changing in 2015.

“I know there is a variety of things,” she said. “Obviously, you know, confidence, preparation, everything comes to play. But also I think it’s a lot to do with confidence. It takes time for certain things to fall into place. Last year I really felt I made big steps towards winning more matches, beating top players. These kinds of things you sort of have to have in place in order to do well at the big events. I feel like I’m ready for next step. Also I feel comfortable in my team. I feel I can communicate with them more. Last year at some points it was not the case. Then also US Open was just a fresh start with new team, with new coach. So it takes time to get used to. Now I feel I can communicate with them more and they can help me.”

Now at 27, Ivanovic turned a new leaf -a new coach in Dejan Petrovic and a more focused game. That allowed her to reach the finals in Brisbane, losing ultimately to Maria Sharapova.

However, in Melbourne, is ranked higher than she has been in years.

“I try not to think too much about the rankings,” she said. “I definitely thought about it towards the end of the last year. I really tried to make that push and finish in top five. At the moment I really want to focus on my game, what to do out there on the court, to enjoy every match because I know if I do that, the results take care of themselves, and rankings speak for themselves. This is my main focus for this season.”

And in OZ it’s a different kind of slam for her.

“I think each Grand Slam, it’s very specific and very individual in the atmosphere and the feel about it,” she said. “Here I really feel people get excited about tennis. You know, they love sport. They love to cheer. They get loud. That’s exciting. There’s lots of kids always out here that come and support us. Obviously it’s their summer holidays so people are a little bit more relaxed, I feel. But it is very exciting. Since I don’t have a tournament at home, this is like second home for me.”

She feels very confident.Th