NEWLY-CROWNED French Open champion Ana Ivanovic revealed that Novak Djokovic’s victory in this year’s Australian Open was one of the driving forces behind her maiden grand slam crown.
Ivanovic secured Serbia its second major title of the year on Saturday with a 6-4 6-3 win over Russia’s Dinara Safina in the final at Roland Garros, just five months on from Djokovic breaking his grand slam duck in Melbourne.
Ivanovic and Djokovic are at the forefront of a Serbian revolution in both the men’s and women’s professional games and the 20-year-old Ivanovic, twice a grand slam runner-up prior until Saturday, believes more is to come from a country thatalso boasts the talents of Jelena Jankovic, the women’s third seed at Roland Garros.
“It was an amazing achievement for Novak to win the first grand slamtournament for Serbia at the beginning of the year,” said Ivanovic.
“Going into [Saturday’s] final I thought of it, and I said: ‘Come on, he could do it, I can do it too. I can win a title as well’. So it was something that for sure motivates, and I hope also many young kids get inspired by us.”
The strides made by Serbian tennis were there for all to see at Roland Garros, where Djokovic reached the men’s semi-finals before crashing out to reigning champion Rafael Nadal, while Ivanovic had to overcome compatriot Jankovic in the last four of the women’s draw in what was far and away her toughest test of the tournament.
Ivanovic’s run at the French Open means she will be the new women’s number one when the latest WTA rankings are announced today, and she believes that a similar honour is not beyond the reach of Djokovic.
“It’s something that motivates us,” she continued.
“I’m sure he [Djokovic] will also reach his goal of being number one, one day. He has great potential.
“Jelena, on the other hand, she is also a great girl, and I hope she canachieve her dreams.”
Ivanovic was certain to be the new number one regardless of the result against Safina by dint of the early exits of Maria Sharapova, Jankovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova at the claycourt event. But the Belgrade-born right-hander, who entered Roland Garros second only to Sharapova in the seedings, insists that winning tournaments, not retaining her ranking, will remain her key motivation.
“This title, it is very important to me, because it was my dream for a longtime,” she said. “Reaching the number one position before I played this matchwas a great award.
“But then again, when you’re on the court you have to play your game. You just have to keep doing the right things on the court and the rankings take care of themselves.
“It’s obviously very sweet and very nice to reach number one, but you have to make sure you’re still working hard on the court.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved