Tennis - Ivanovic steering clear of friend Novak

BEIJING Sat Aug 9, 2008 9:36pm IST

Ana Ivanovic of Serbia serves during a tennis  practice session ahead of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, August 6, 2008 REUTERS/Toby Melville

Ana Ivanovic of Serbia serves during a tennis practice session ahead of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, August 6, 2008

Credit: Reuters/Toby Melville

BEIJING (Reuters) - Women's top seed Ana Ivanovic is refusing to practise with fellow Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic at the Olympics because of memories of a childhood knock-up with him which cost her victory in a tournament.

Ivanovic, 20, grew up close to men's world number three Djokovic in Belgrade and their families were close friends.

As soon as they began playing tennis they began bumping into each other at the same competitions and knocking up together.

"We played once. We warmed up for a competition I think it was under 10 or under 12 and we hit together for a warm-up," she told reporters.

"I tried to hit so good to impress him that I was tired and I couldn't play my match so I lost.

"Since then I don't want to play with him."

Since then they have both enjoyed remarkable rises to the top of their sport.

Ivanovic won the French Open in June and 21-year-old Djokovic began the year in style with his first grand slam title at the Australian Open.

With Jelena Jankovic, who will oust Ivanovic from the world number one spot on Monday, and Janko Tipsarevic in the men's singles draw Serbia have plenty of medal opportunities.

Ivanovic has suffered a slump in from since winning the French Open and is taking nothing for granted against first round opponent Mariya Koryttseva of Ukraine.

"I don't know much about her, we never played so I just want to try to find my feet for my first match and try to perform the best I can," she said.

Djokovic plays Robby Ginepri of the United States in the first round of the men's singles.

(For more stories visit our multimedia website "2008 Summer Olympics" here; and see our blog at blogs.reuters.com/china)

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