2014 Wimbledon: Ana Ivanovic looking to keep relaxed when stakes are highest
Last Updated: 18/06/14 10:26am
A resurgent Ana Ivanovic has brotherly love to thank as she prepares for a tilt at this year’s Wimbledon title.
The Serbian seemed to have the tennis world at her feet when, in her third grand slam final as a 20-year-old, she lifted the French Open title in 2008.
But her form subsequently nose-dived, reaching just two quarter-finals in her 24 slams since that day in Paris, while she has spent the last five years outside the top 10.
But, following a chat to her brother last year, she has come out of her slumber and on Sunday won her third title of the season at the Aegon Classic in Birmingham to climb to 11th in the rankings.
It was about a year ago after I lost in Eastbourne. I had a really long conversation with my brother on Skype. He really made me relax and realise a few things that I started thinking about. So I can say it was him who helped me get a different mindset.
Explaining her resurgence, Ivanovic, who notched a world-leading 37th match win of 2014 to take Sunday’s silverware, explained: “There was one moment where I decided it had to change.
"It was about a year ago after I lost in Eastbourne. I had a really long conversation with my brother on Skype. He really made me relax and realise a few things that I started thinking about. So I can say it was him who helped me get a different mindset.
"Since then, it's been a process. Obviously things don't happen overnight, but I'm very proud of the steps I took.
“I'm a happier person. I don't judge myself by the results. I judge myself as a person and also the values and things that I have."
Ivanovic's realisation was that to be successful on the court she had to be happy off it.
"You think, 'Oh, I was so stupid. I was worrying so much'," she added.
"When you're in it, it's very hard to see. You're emotional. Your views are blurred. But it's important to also be aware that worrying doesn't solve anything.
"You have to take action. That's what's very important. Always the hardest thing to do is to take action about it. But it's the only way forward."
The biggest change she made was to end her two-year partnership with British coach Nigel Sears and link up with a Serbian team led by Nemanja Kontic, who has helped her not to feel guilty about having a life outside tennis.
Now Ivanovic hopes to make an impact in the latter stages of grand slams again, and keep the same relaxed attitude when the stakes are at their highest.
"I think that's now my biggest goal, is to work at this," she said. "It's a new situation for me. I experienced this only a long time ago.
"I really try to stay in the moment. I think this is where Nemanja can help me as well. We talk a lot, and it's important."
Ivanovic admits she still carries her French Open triumph with her to an extent but no longer wants to try to recapture the past.
"I was very young, very successful, but I don't want to be that person," she said. "I want to be different. I really have to get rid of the past to be able to embrace the future."
Ivanovic's advice to her 20-year-old self would be simple: "I would say to myself to be more relaxed and enjoy it a little more.
"You get to a point like, 'Okay, this is great, but there is so much more to life. I have no friends'.
"I was young. I wanted it so much. That was the only way for me to do it. Now looking back I don't want to make the same mistakes. I think you can be successful even if you have a nice dinner."