Tennis-Ivanovic discovers cure for serving yips

CINCINNATI, Ohio Tue Aug 11, 2009 12:26am BST

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CINCINNATI, Ohio Aug 10 (Reuters) - Former world number one Ana Ivanovic said she may have found a cure for her serving problems after reaching the second round of the Cincinnati Open on Monday.

When the Serb reached the top of the world rankings last year after winning the French Open she did so on the back of a huge forehand and one of the best serves in the women's game.

Over the past year the 21-year-old has struggled with her serve, however, particularly with her ball-toss, and has tinkered with her action several times.

Her latest solution involves a curtailed take-back, a la Maria Sharapova.

Ivanovic hit nine double faults in her 2-6 6-1 6-1 victory over American teenager Melanie Oudin but only three of them came after the first set.

"I am just taking some pressure off (her shoulder) and the serve feels a lot better," she said.

"Actually it's faster than it was so I'm pretty happy about that."

Ivanovic confessed she wished she had began making adjustments to her serve.

"I started changing it and I started making a big issue out of it," she said. "The more I thought about it, the more pressure I put on myself trying to hit the perfect serve.

"Instead of just relaxing... it went down the pipe pretty far."

Ivanovic joked: "I'm so confused right now it doesn't matter. In the past two months, I changed it five or six times, trying to figure out what feels most natural.

The Serb believes she is close to fixing the problem with the shorter swing.

"Hopefully I found what is going to give me the most power and most consistency," she said. "I just tried it in practice the other day and it felt pretty good straightaway, so hopefully it will stay that way."

(Editing by Alastair Himmer; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

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