High-profile Serbian tennis player Ana Ivanovic isn’t superstitious but hopes the return to a happy hunting ground in Auckland can pay dividends.
World No.16 Ivanovic is gunning for history to repeat when she contests the Auckland Classic, the tournament she won in 2014 to kick-start a career resurgence that year.
After winning four titles and climbing to fifth in the world rankings, Ivanovic opted against an Auckland title defence in 2015 and subsequently struggled.
She went title-less and was forced to sit out the closing weeks of the year with a back niggle.
The 28-year-old is banking on the good vibes of Auckland – plus an off-season which she describes as ideal – to pay off in the tournament starting on Monday.
“I’m delighted to come back to Auckland. I have great memories here and it’s definitely one of my favourite events on the WTA calendar,” she said.
“The field is going to be strong and it will give me the opportunity to play some high-quality matches before the Australian Open.”
Ivanovic is second seed behind Venus Williams, the decorated American she beat in three sets in the title decider two years ago between two former world No.1s.
Williams rebounded to clinch victory last year, also in three sets over Swiss Caroline Wozniacki, who returns as the third seed.
Ivanovic and Wozniacki – two of the more heavily-marketed players on the WTA – attracted a sizeable crowd to a promotional street event in Auckland on Sunday.
Ivanovic, whose lone grand slam title was the 2008 French Open, says her body clock is still adjusting after her delayed flight landed at anti-social hours this week. She also chose to see in New Year’s Eve.
“I’ve been waking up a little bit early but it’s nice to get some early mornings in and work out,” she said.
Ivanovic will face a qualifier in the first round.