By Brodie McPhee
For anyone involved with tennis, players, coaches, and fans alike, it is one of the most exciting times of the year. Arguably, it may be one of the most exciting times we have ever seen. Along with the schedule shake up that happens once every four years, the Olympics will be held on the Wimbledon grass, extending the grass season to an abnormally long length. The switch back to hard courts will be as immediate as the switch from clay to grass, and will take place in Canada nearly immediately after the Olympics.
For Ana Ivanovic, she will have the chance to play in both the Olympics and Montreal, two tournaments that will be very special for her. “I’m very very excited. It was one of the toughest points of my career when I had to pull out of the 2008 Olympics because of my injury. I really hope I can go far. Obviously itâ€™s going to be a long season and on grass too. But I hope I can go far and hopefully bring a medal for my country.”
The 2006 version of the Rogers Cup was Ivanovic’s coming out party, taking the tournament by storm and showing that she had both the talent and the personality to become a WTA superstar. “Montreal has always been a very special tournament for me. I’m looking forward to coming back and playing again. It’s a tough schedule after the Olympics but I’m very excited.” With the most visited website in all of the WTA, Ivanovic will once again be a fan favorite amongst Canadians. “It’s pretty amazing. It’s always nice to have the support.”
Navigating this time of year will be difficult for all players and their teams, Ivanovic and coach Nigel Sears included. “We’ve been talking a lot about a plan. Not only do we have Olympics but we have the Fed Cup final. It does add to the year. I really feel it is important to take some time off after Wimbledon. After Wimbledon I will get a week off, and then have a couple weeks preparation for Olympics.”
Ivanovic will be involved in the women’s singles as well as the first ever edition of mixed doubles with compatriot Nenad Zimonjic. Mixed doubles will run as late as Sunday and both Montreal and Toronto editions of the Rogers Cup have adjusted the schedule to give players an extra day to adjust to the time and surface difference. “It’s very important to give players that extra day to adjust.”
Ivanovic mentioned several times that the most difficult switch is in fact the jet lag, not the surface change. “It depends. After French Open I haven’t practiced for 10 days. Now that I step on grass, it’s not that tough of a transition. We adjust our movement immediately. I think its going to be tough with the time difference… and the surface change. We are all in the same position.”
Ivanovic also realized that not many of her fellow players had considered the quick schedule turn around yet. “Everyone is so excited about Olympics that not many people are thinking about how big the gap is. There’s so much positive excitement so no one is really taking that gap seriously [laughs].”
Having made the 2007 Wimbledon semifinals, Ivanovic should like her chances at Wimbledon and the Olympics on the back of a successful 2012 so far. “I really want to get to the point where I can win big events again. I still need to improve my serve and my consistency overall. The last few times I played Sharapova and Azarenka, I felt I came close. It’s these types of matches I need to win to feel I believe again in the top 5 again.”
The WTA version of the Rogers Cup, presented by National Bank will be held in Montreal from August 4-13. The ATP version will be held in Toronto, and run from August 4-12. For tickets and more information, visit http://www.rogerscup.com/.