Sultry Serb Ana holds court
RAY WILSON, The West Australian December 31, 2010, 7:25 am
Sultry Serb Ana holds court
Ian Munro/WA News © Enlarge photo
Ana Ivanovic is picture perfect.
The 23-year-old, in Perth representing Serbia at the Hyundai Hopman Cup, is one of the best 20 tennis players in the world but her exquisite beauty often draws as much attention as her powerful cross court forehands.
It seems that too much Ana is not nearly enough.
According to her own website, the sultry Serb has featured on 106 magazine covers around the world since 2005.
Some of the shots have even included a tennis racquet. Not that you'd notice.
It peaked last year when 52 journals featured the smouldering Ivanovic, including more than 20 in her homeland where she also has appeared on postage stamps.
Two years ago, men's magazine FHM's poll rated Ivanovic as the 11th sexiest woman on earth.
She has also appeared in Elle, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Vanity Fair and Time Magazine.
Get the picture. There is no other way to say it - the lady, who has launched a million thoughts worldwide by red-blooded male sports fans, is drop-dead gorgeous.
She can also play tennis, and at the ripe old age of 23, the former world No.1 is on the way back from the wilderness which last year saw her drop from the top 20 for the first time in five years.
With world No.3 and long-time friend Novak Djokovic, the Serbs are the top-ranked nation in the eight-country field for Hopman Cup XXIII which starts tomorrow with the tie between Australia and Belgium.
Serbia - both Ivanovic and Djokovic also played at Burswood in 2006 - begin their campaign on Sunday evening against Kazakhstan's Yaroslava Shvedova and Andrey Golubev.
Ivanovic cites a fitness campaign spearheaded by Serbian friend Marija Lojanica following Wimbledon as the major reason for her rise back up the rankings in the second half of this year, climbing from 38 to her current position at 17.
Also, she has employed Portugal's Antonio van Grichen as her new coach on a trial basis for the Australian summer. Van Grichen guided Belarusian Victoria Azarenka from 250 to No.6 in the world rankings.
Ivanovic, who won the French Open in 2008, said her lift in fitness levels also gave her the confidence to engage in longer rallies.
"All the different things started to come together for me because I became stronger physically, and mentally," Ivanovic said yesterday at Burswood.
"To get two titles (Bali and Linz, Austria) at end of the year means a lot to me. At the US Open, I was asked my goal for the end of the year and I said I'd like to have a title. I've got two (10 in total), so I can't complain."
Her goals for 2011 are simple.
"I want to get back to the top 10, and I want to win another slam. That's what I'll work for," she said.
"I'm fortunate that I've won a grand slam and reached No.1 but I'd choose another grand slam victory ahead of the top ranking.
"I know I have the potential to win some more."
A beach addict, she's already visited Port, Cottesloe and Scarborough, but Ivanovic's main concern about the tournament is whether her partner, and infamous joker Djokovic, will sing at tonight's New Year's Eve Ball.
"He got up on stage and sang last time," she said. "I hope he won't embarrass me like that again."
The Serbians have the capacity to embarrass the three nations - Australia, Kazakhstan and Belgium - in Group A and make tomorrow week's final.
Justine Henin shapes as a tough opponent for Ivanovic but none of the other nations have the two-pronged class of the Serbs.
In Group B, Britain's Andy Murray and Laura Robson are top seeds but will find tough opposition, especially from Italy's Francesca Schiavone and Potito Starace, while American pair John Isner and Bethanie Mattek-Sands are capable of causing upsets.