PARIS (Reuters) - Ana Ivanovic, whose career went into freefall following her 2008 Roland Garros triumph, is now enjoying a tennis resurgence and is hungry for more success at this year’s French Open.
The Serbian 13th seed romped to a 6-2 6-2 second-round win over Israel’s Shahar Peer and is now hopeful of making it past the last 16 of a grand slam for the first time since her 2008 success.
She thought she had hit rock bottom when she was knocked out in the first round of the U.S. Open in 2009 but last year’s opening-round defeat in Paris was also hard to swallow.
“Last year probably has been the hardest one for me ever. To come back here this year and play better and go through to the third round, it means a lot,” said the former world number one, who has struggled with injuries and confidence issues.
Ivanovic, however, did not want to put too much pressure on herself.
“That has been the hardest part. Acceptance, whatever it is. Acceptance that I’ll make mistakes,” she told a news conference.
”Acceptance that I will have a good day, I will have a bad day. Unfortunately in this sport it’s always up and down and very emotional.
“We play on big stages. People always look and judge and that’s very hard.”
These days, however, it seems as if not many people are even interested in the once popular champion.
“We were joking because we just walked in the main interview room (at Roland Garros) and no one was there,” she said with a smile.
“They told us we were in a small one (room). I said ‘Oh, that was ambitious walking in the big one’.”
It was a far cry from the scenes that greeted her four years ago when the glamorous Serbian champion had to fight her way through the crowds and into a packed press conference room.
Having experienced the dizzy heights of the sport, she now wants a second bite of the cherry.
“Even though I achieved some of my dreams, I still have hunger for more. That’s what drives me and that’s what inspires to me to get up in the morning and to work hard,” she said.
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Pritha Sarkar