NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former world number one Ana Ivanovic is confident of getting back to the top of the rankings despite a precipitous slide since her only grand slam triumph.
Victory at the 2008 French Open helped her to the top of the rankings but a dramatic loss of confidence since then saw her spiral to 65th in the world in July of this year.
This week, she matched her best display at a grand slam since that Roland Garros triumph by reaching the fourth round at the U.S. Open.
However she managed to win just three games in her last 16 encounter with Clijsters on Sunday and admitted concerns that her self-assurance might take a another hit.
“I just have to be positive and don’t let this match today set me back,” said the 22-year-old.
“To win a title would be nice because I really feel I’m actually in a position to do so because I’ve been playing really good. So I really think I can do it.
“I beat a lot of top 10 players this year and know I have a game to compete with the top and to be the top.”
Ivanovic credits her Swiss coach Heinz Gunhardt, who guided Steffi Graf when she dominated women’s tennis in the 1980s and 1990s, for getting her game moving in the right direction.
The Serbian said Gunhardt “believed in me more than I believed in myself” during her darkest hours but admitted she was still at a loss to explain her dramatic on-court demise.
“It’s tough, you do question a lot of things and you doubt certain things,” she said. “Obviously you doubt if you lose a lot... whether you have in you what you need to win big matches.”
Ivanovic says she has yet to watch her French Open triumph in its entirety but said she occasionally looked back at clips in a bid to emulate that sort of form.
“I’ve seen a few bits and pieces on YouTube and watching it I felt like I was really consistent and I was doing everything solid,” she said.
“Sometimes I still pull the trigger too early but I feel like I’m doing the right things and I’m playing a lot better.”
Editing by Steve Ginsburg