Five things about Ana Ivanovic, who has reached a first grand slam quarter-final since she won the 2008 French Open.
Will Ivanovic ever win a second slam title? Should she beat Serena Williams in New York City, that idea would no longer seem so far-fetched (it looked far-fetched earlier this summer when she lost 6-0, 6-0 to Italy’s Roberta Vinci in Canada). Being a former world No 1 “was almost a curse in terms of trying to get back there”, her manager Gavin Versi has told ESPN. “She’s still got a lot to achieve in tennis. I think she’s lucky, in that she’s good on all surfaces. She could potentially win every grand slam. She can be a contender at each one, I still believe that. She’s still got time on her side and the talent. People forget – it seems like she’s been around forever, but she’s only 24.”
Andy Murray’s prospective father-in-law Nigel Sears has done a fine job in making Ivanovic believe in her talent again. “It’s just been a question of reminding Ana how good she is,” Sears, who previously coached Amanda Coetzer and Daniela Hantuchova, has said.
Had she known that so much time would have passed between slam quarter-finals, Ivanovic would have gone on holiday for four years (she was probably joking).
How much of a role has Kim Sears played in this revival? Ivanovic has said her working relationship with Sears has been helped by her coach having a daughter of a similar age. “I think it’s very important to keep some distance, so that once you go on court you can become more professional. Nigel really respects it if I want to spend time with my friends and don’t want to have breakfast, lunch and dinner with him. There are times when the only people you spend time with are the people in your team,” Ivanovic has said. “That’s hard, because I think, ‘I’m a girl. I want to hang out with other girls. I just want to be a normal young woman.'”
Sears has said that working with female players means “dealing with a greater swing of emotions”. “I’m not saying that in a negative way, but you have to be sensitive to that. You also have to figure out what women respond to and perhaps be a little bit more sensitive than you would be when dealing with men. You can probably afford to be a little bit more direct with the men in terms of communication” Sears has said. “I think you have to practise your listening skills with women. I’m really happy I’m now working at a time when I’ve had lots of experience. Believe me, I draw on that experience every day.”