Ana Ivanovic arrives in Birmingham for the defense of her title with a spring in her step after her return to the big time at Roland Garros.
WTA Staff

BIRMINGHAM, England - Ana Ivanovic could have been forgiven for leaving Roland Garros with a wistful backwards glance and thoughts about what could have been.

A string of upsets decimated the bottom half of the draw in Paris, leaving Ivanovic as the only member of the Top 10 still standing at the quarterfinals stage. However, with an ailing Serena Williams lying in wait in the final, Ivanovic became the victim of her own upset, coming up short against an inspired Lucie Safarova.

Talking on the eve of the defense of her Aegon Classic Birmingham title, Ivanovic sounded far from disappointed.

"Definitely I was very happy to reach the semifinals," Ivanovic said. "Of course I had some opportunities to go a step further.

"But looking back to where I was before the tournament and having no expectation at all, I'm just seeing the progress. I've been working hard on certain things and it gives me so much confidence for the weeks and months ahead."

So what were these areas of self-improvement the 27-year-old was targeting?

"It's a balance, because I felt like when I was young it was so much about tennis and just not really having time off. Not letting my hair down and enjoying my free time.

"But maybe two years ago I really changed that. I was doing slightly less work on the court and concentrating on having my mind in the right place.

"I'd make more time to go to the beach or shopping with friends. These were the type of things that made a difference to me."

Remarkably, Ivanovic's French Open run was the first time she had been to the last four of a major since lifting the title in Paris seven years ago. It is a breakthrough she hopes will act as a springboard to achieving another of her season's major targets: qualifying for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.

"It's my goal for this season. I really have to raise my level up for the second half of the year, since I was not performing as well in the first half. It's my goal and I think it's achievable, so I'm going to put my head down, work hard each day and hopefully I'll be there."