| MASON, Ohio
MASON, Ohio Aug 12 The female touch has
brought a little more fun into the routine of former world
number one Ana Ivanovic as she tries to claw her way back up
the world rankings.
Ivanovic has slumped to 62nd in the world rankings having
not won a tournament in nearly two years or appeared in a final
since March 2009.
But the smile was on the Serb's face on Thursday after she
confidently defeated Russia's Elena Vesnina 6-0 6-3 to book her
spot in the quarter-finals of the Cincinnati Open.
Ivanovic has never been one to show much disappointment at
her defeats, but there is a distinctly fresh bounce in her step
she credits to new physical fitness coach Marija Lojanica.
"It's been also a lot fun working out with a girl and just
having fun and throwing in a dance or whatever. You know, just
actually enjoying it," said Ivanovic. "She's a girl, so we can
go shopping together, watch movies, do our nails. It just keeps
your mind off tennis."
Lojanica, who works with the Serbian Fed Cup team, joined
Ivanovic's staff following Wimbledon but the pair have known
each other since the 2008 French Open winner was 13.
Ivanovic says she has undergone "huge progress" in her
fitness and her morale has been lifted working with a woman.
"In the past I was with male coaches, and you do a job and
go back to the room. I really like to read and it was sort of
relaxing," she said.
"But then after all, you find you have spent all day in a
room, and it gets kind of depressing. So it's good to go out
and just do a fun girly stuff."
While that has meant eating popcorn at the cinema, the work
with Lojanica has also brought benefits on the court.
"I'm much better physically at the moment, and I feel
stronger on the court. So that puts me in better position to
hit the ball, which then I can generate more power and hurt
opponents more. So it's kind of a circle. It's all kind of
connected," said Ivanovic.
"That's what I've been always saying in past few months. It
was always this balance, my tennis, fitness, it was always, you
know, playing catch up in some ways. But now I feel it's sort
of all marrying together, and it's starting to work and click
The 22-year-old from Belgrade is coached by Steffi Graf's
former coach Heinz Gunthardt from Switzerland and believes she
can get back to the very top of the rankings.
Ivanovic argues she is at least as good now as she was when
she was the top rated player in the world.
"In some ways I am probably better, I think, because I'm
being more aggressive than I was back then. I'm much more
experienced than I was then," she said.
"When you're young and up and coming and you win lots of
the matches, you definitely take things for granted. I
definitely don't do that anymore.
"In some way I feel like I'm different player and more
mature one. I think in the long run, I'm better."
(Editing by Frank Pingue; To query or comment on this story