x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Ivanovic prepared for old friend Jankovic

The two Serbian tennis aces play each other for bragging rights in the quarter finals in Doha.

DOHA // When Ana Ivanovic climbed to the top of the world tennis rankings on the strength of her triumph in the French Open to guarantee her place in the season ending Sony Ericsson Championships, she could not have envisaged arriving in Qatar with three players above her. Nor would the Serbian have expected her compatriot Jelena Jankovic to have recovered so strongly from a mundane start to the year to be the latest to claim the world No 1 position - an honour which is guaranteed to remain with Jankovic into next season. Ivanovic's fall from grace has been spectacularly alarming and she confessed to being disturbed by the manner of her decline as she has struggled with injury and a lack of confidence in the second half of the campaign.

"It was probably the toughest time of my career so far," she said. "Having to pull out of the Olympics through injury and everything that's been happening straight after reaching the position of No 1 was very frustrating. "It was unfortunate at the time, but now looking back I think it made me stronger. It made me learn new things. I'm really happy the way things are going now, and I want to continue that."

Ivanovic, who endured a series of embarrassing early exits from tournaments in the aftermath of her Roland Garros success, feels she has recaptured her form at just the right time, having secured the eighth title of her short career in Austria last month. "Next year is going to be a great year from me," she said. Ivanovic, who celebrates her 21st birthday during these championships, must try to regain bragging rights in her homeland at Jelena Jankovic's expense.

"I'm sure in Serbia they're going to complain so much that we're in the same group because they don't want this at this stage of the tournament," she said. "It's going to be a very interesting match. We've played many times against each other before and we know each other's game thoroughly." "There can be no friends when you go on court both wanting to win a match and the tournament. But I have no enemies either."

Ivanovic will fancy her chances of winning her eighth encounter with Jankovic, against whom she has lost only once, tonight but her opponent is full of confidence having won more matches - 63- than any other player this year. wjohnson@thenational.ae