NEW YORK: Former world number one Ana Ivanovic (pictured) is riding a new wave of success, and this time she’s ready to enjoy it.
The Serbian was only 20 when she won the French Open in 2008, and the sudden stardom was almost too much.
“It was very hard to handle all the attention because I was very shy at the time,” she said. “I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin. I was very introverted. I like to spend my time with the books. That’s who I was.”
Ivanovic struggled to maintain her level of success. Unable to establish herself as a consistent Grand Slam threat, she fell as low as 65th in the world in July of 2010.
“All of a sudden, there was so many requests and so many other things that came with it,” she said. “No one prepared me for that. Obviously it took me some time to get used to that and to actually embrace it and enjoy it.”
Ivanovic said 2013 was a turning point for her. Without a title since 2011, she had become frustrated with her inability to translate her hard work into success in tournaments.
“It’s hard to love it then,” she said. “But you have to find some way or goal to work towards. “Last year has been amazing change for me. I learned a lot about myself, about my goals, who I am as a person and who I want to be.
“This is what I had to discover -- what was my goal -- and not so much be obsessed about what other people’s vision of my life or career should be.”
In 2014 she has reaped the rewards of her new focus, with a quarter-final appearance at the Australian Open that included a fourth-round upset of Serena Williams.
Her three titles this year include the first grasscourt victory of her career, and she has reached finals on three different surfaces.
Ivanovic arrived at the US Open back in the top 10 for the first time in more than five years. Seeded eighth, Ivanovic opened her campaign with a crisp 6-3, 6-0 victory over young American Alison Riske.
In the past, the bustling Big Apple and its rowdiest of Grand Slams offered just the kind of atmosphere to send Ivanovic into her shell. “That’s why it’s only since few years I started loving New York, because that’s about that,” she said. “It’s about emotions, crowds, and embracing that moment.”