New camp helps Ana Ivanovic end crisis of confidence, target slam title
* Glen Foreman
* From: PerthNow
* December 30, 2010 2:23PM
COURT QUEEN: Former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic is preparing to launch her 2011 campaign at Perth's Hopman Cup. Picture: Kerris Berrington Source: PerthNow
THAT WINNING FEELING: Ana Ivanovic said a rediscovered confidence helped her take the Tournament of Champions title in Bali. Picture: Firdia Lisnawati/AP Source: PerthNow
A NEW team surrounding Ana Ivanovic ended a crisis of confidence for the former world No .1, who will this week launch her charge for another grand slam title.
Ivanovic will take to the court at Perth's Hopman Cup on Sunday, beginning her year alongside compatriot and long-time friend Novak Djokovic in a clash against Kazakhstan at the January 1-8 ITF mixed-teams tournament.
The match will be the first time Ivanovic has competed under the tutelage of trial coach Antonio van Grichen, who steered Belarusian Victoria Azarenka from world No. 250 to world No. 6.
An earlier addition to the Ivanovic camp was fitness coach Marija Lojanica.
The 2008 French Open champion, who went from a 2009 slump to winning two Tour titles this year, became philisophical when she talked about regaining her confidence on court, crediting her turnaround to her new band of helpers.
"Confidence ... it's a strange thing, because once you lose it, it's very hard to get it back," she said.
"At least in my case, I tried to search for it in many different fassions, places and people, but you realise that all the time it's in you, you just have to discover it.
"You have to believe in yourself first and that's what I was lacking, so to have that back, it's great.
"I got a few new coaches and a new team around me and it helped me get a lot fitter.
"I'm really happy with Antonio.
"We only started two or three weeks ago so it's still a process of getting to know each other and it's going to be great to test it throughout the matches and tournaments in pressure situations.
"But we've worked really hard and he got me to do a lot of specific drills, to hit the ball through and cleaner and it's working well and something I feel I need in my game.
"I did a lot of footwork drills to help me stay longer in the rallies and return more balls, which is always going to give you confidence.
"Once I got fitter, it gave me a lot more confidence on the court and I work really hard so all the things started to come together and it was no longer (a case of finding) the balance between my fitness and my game and my mental (focus)."
Ivanovic made a strong charge to the end of the season, winning two of her final three tournaments - in Linz, Austria and Bali, Indonesia - and making the quarter finals of the other< in Luxembourg.
The promising finish followed a struggled start, in which the 23-year-old fell in the second round of both the Australian and French opens and faltered in her first match at Wimbledon.
But Ivanovic began gaining momentum after the third slam and went on to reach the semi-finals of the Cincinnati Masters and the Round of 16 at the US Open, before beginning her charge to the year's end.
Ivanovic said she was keeping her goals realistic, simply targeting the second week of the four majors, but did not rule out a charge on another slam title.
"That's my goal, to get to the second week," Ivanovic said.
"I feel good about my game and my fitness at the moment but I just don't want to get too excited about the possibilities of how far I can get.
"It's important to set realistic goals, aim for the second week and take it day by day.
"I want to get back in the top 10 and win another slam.
"I was really fortunate in my career to have won a grand slam and reach No. 1 and that's something you never forget.
"If I had to choose, I would always choose a grand slam over the No. 1 ranking and I know I have the potential to get another one.
"I think I'm on the right way and I work really hard, but consistency is going to be the main thing because you have to perform good week after week and recover well, especially in a grand slam where you have to win seven matches.
"To be sharp and consistent is going to be the main issue."
Ivanovic, who teamed with Djokovic four years ago for her maiden Hopman Cup appearance, said she was looking forward to spending time with her childhood friend as the pair, runners-up in 2006, targeted one better this time around.
"Last time we were here, on New Years Eve, (Djokovic) got on stage and sung - hopefully he doesn't do anything embarrasing again," Ivanovic said, laughing.
"Last time we reached finals here and I think it's a great event to start with.
"It's tough this year, there's a lot of good players and I think it's going to be a great field.
"I think it's going to be great playing Justine (Henin), we always have tough matches and she's the sort of player who challenges you a lot and I really enjoy that.
"A lot of players use these first events to suss out the other players because it's been almost a month away from the Tour and everyone's done things in their own way."