Ivanovic expectations high for Auckland
It has been five long years since Ana Ivanovic's solitary grand slam win but she believes her path to another crown starts at the Auckland Classic tournament today.
Twenty-two times since that victory at the French Open in 2008, one of tennis' most glamorous players has failed to win one of the big events and only once, at the US Open in 2012, has she made it to the quarterfinals.
The last time she won a title was in Bali in 2011 and she has only made it to any final once since then.
Despite this, she remains one of the highest profile players in the game but there does come a point where she needs to deliver again.
The 26-year-old Serbian certainly has the game to win another grand slam and she has one of the best forehands in women's tennis. But she has been too erratic and her serve can be all over the place.
Keen to get in as much game time in her only event before the Australian Open, Ivanovic has entered the doubles at Auckland's WTA tournament as well as playing in the singles and today she teams up with Belgian Kirsten Flipkens to take on Irina Falconi from the USA and the Czech Republic's Eva Hrdinova.
It is the first time Ivanovic has played doubles since partnering up with Andrea Petkovic in Toronto in August 2011.
''I really want to get a lot of matches and doubles is a great way to improve your game; work on serves, volleys and returns,'' Ivanovic said yesterday.
''Also, she [Flipkens] is such a fun girl, so it's good to play with a friend.''
Ivanovic, the second seed at the Auckland tournament, admitted she was frustrated about her barren run in grand slams since 2008 but there is a steely determination about her and a real drive not be a one-hit wonder.
She knows it has been too long between drinks.
''It is definitely longer than I wished for,'' she said.
''But it is how it is and it's better not to think much about the past, but to learn and move on. I've set myself those goals and I've been working hard.
''There are many girls who want exactly the same thing; you have to want it more and I really do.
''I want to enjoy the process in getting there, that's why I'm here because I believe I can do it again.''
Tomorrow Ivanovic will start her singles campaign at the Classic, taking on American Alison Riske and again she is seeing that as part of her buildup for Melbourne.
''I know a little bit about her; it's not the easiest first-round match for me; I'm looking forward to the challenge.
''It's the first tournament of the year, so everyone's a bit rusty and you want to get that first-round match under your belt, but I want to get out there, apply the things I've worked on and see how that goes.''
Play starts at 10am today with the last round of qualifying. Then at midday on centre court promising American Christina McHale takes on rising Spanish star Garbine Muguruza. This is followed by a match featuring 2013 semifinalist Jamie Hampton from the United States and Austrian wildcard recipient Tamira Paszek, and the day session is rounded off with Ivanovic's doubles match.
But those who have bought tickets for the evening are probably the ones who have struck it lucky as they will get to see Venus Williams take on the Czech Republic's Andrea Hlavackova, followed by a doubles match where Marina Erakovic and her Zimbabwean partner, Cara Black, take on New Zealander Abigail Guthrie and her Auckland born partner, Sacha Jones.
ORDER OF PLAY
CENTRE COURT start 10am
Qualifying - Anett Kontaveit (EST) vs Irina Falconi (USA)
Not before 12 noon
Christina McHale (USA) vs Garbine Muguruza (ESP)
[WC] Tamira Paszek (AUT) vs  Jamie Hampton (USA)
Irina Falconi (USA) / Eva Hrdinova (CZE) vs [WC] Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) / Ana Ivanovic (SRB)
Not before 6.30pm
[WC] Andrea Hlavackova (CZE) vs Venus Williams (USA)
[WC] Abigail Guthrie (NZL) / Sacha Jones (AUS) vs  Cara Black (ZIM) / Marina Erakovic (NZL)
COURT 2 start 10am
Qualifying - Coco Vandeweghe (USA) vs Kristyna Pliskova (CZE)
Not before 11am
Qualifying - Sachie Ishizu (JPN) vs Grace Min (USA)
Johanna Larsson (SWE) vs Lourdes Dominguez Lino (ESP)
COURT 4 start 10am
Qualifying - Sharon Fichman (CAN) vs Richel Hogenkamp (NED)
Not before 12 noon
Yvonne Meusburger (AUT) vs  Mona Barthel (GER) Karolina Pliskova (CZE) vs Paula Ormaechea (ARG)
Kristina Barrois (GER) / Renata Voracova (CZE) vs Chin-Wei Chan (TPE) / Yi-Fan Xu (CHN)
Not before 4pm
Alexandra Cadantu (ROU) vs Kurumi Nara (JPN)