Ana Ivanovic is still a fan favorite. When she makes an appearance, they come out. I’m thrilled that she has finally decided, after a poor start to 2011, to seek a full time coach again. As I’ve said before, she should suck it up and call Heinz Gunthardt. No, he can’t be there every week as she would like, but her greatest success recently came with him in her corner. It’s not surprising that the former coach of Steffi Graf might just have the tools to help Ana regain past glory.
I’m under no illusions that she will make a run at Wimbledon. Ana has lost in the first round of 3 of her last 4 Majors, including last year’s Wimbledon. It’s a shame, because her big serve and flat strokes should set up at the very least a round of 16 run if not better. A good backhand slice and she would have the tools to do well on grass. Heinz should be able to improve that shot for Ana. After all, very few players used the backhand slice as effective as Steffi Graf, keeping the ball low and inducing returns that set up her big forehand. Ana’s tennis idol is Monica Seles. However, Ana does not hit it big off both sides like Monica did. No matter which side you hit to Seles, it was coming back with fire on it. Ana would do better to emulate Steffi Graf. Big serve, slice backhands to keep the ball low (and skid at Wimbledon) and look for a high bouncing return to set up the big forehand. That is Ana’s recipe for success.
At the end of the day, I don’t want another first round Major loss for Ana. I want her to make a deep run at Wimbledon. She has the tools to do it. Does she have the nerves, guidance and belief that she can? That’s always been the question with Ana. I would consider a round of 16 result a successful tournament at this moment. That would be something to build on going forward after Wimbledon. Reaching the semifinal at the Aegon Classic at Birmingham was a positive sign. But the big names will be at the All-England club. We’ll see how she does there.