Tennis News

Tennis-Ivanovic put nerves behind her, set sights on grand slams

INDIAN WELLS, California, March 23 (Reuters) - Despite feeling uneasy as top seed at the Pacific Life Open for only the second time in a WTA Tour event, Serb Ana Ivanovic signed off on a high with a composed victory in Sunday’s final.

Playing aggressively, the 20-year-old from Belgrade brushed aside second-seeded Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4 6-3 to raise her hopes for this year’s grand slams and Olympic Games.

Ivanovic, the world number two, has also set her sights on the top spot in the rankings.

“I was a little bit nervous coming into this tournament because it hasn’t happened to me that many times,” the elegant Serb told reporters after capturing the first Masters Series event of the year.

“It’s such a strong field and still I’m No. 1 seeded, so obviously more pressure comes into the play.

“In the first few matches, I was more nervous but then I just started to focus and not even think about who I play against, just do what I have been doing in practice.

“I’ve been practising really well and working hard on my fitness,” added Ivanovic, who lost to Russian Maria Sharapova in the Australian Open final in January.


“That’s something I tried to focus on when I was on the court so I was thinking technically what I had to do and, as the tournament went on and on, I played better.”

Ivanovic played her first grand slam final at last year’s French Open, losing to Belgium’s Justine Henin, and has already turned her thoughts to Wimbledon and the Beijing Games in August.

“Wimbledon is very traditional and I feel my game can fit very well on grass if I keep working on my volleys like I’ve been doing,” said the Serb, who reached the last four at Wimbledon for the first time last year.

“But on the other hand, the Olympics are very special and you have the opportunity to play them only once in four years, so it would be really special to win a medal there.”

Looking further ahead, Ivanovic would dearly love to become the game’s leading player.

“That’s my big goal, to make it one more step in the rankings and to become No. 1,” she said. “But it’s very tough competition and there are many, many players who are really close in achieving that.”

Editing by Ed Osmond