Sports

Ivanovic's having fun

- TNP PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR

She was rarely seen without a smile at the Singapore Indoor Stadium earlier this week, and was frequently seen swinging to the music when she was not playing.

Women's world No. 5 Ana Ivanovic even hammed it up on the private flight here for the three-day Singapore leg of the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL), which ended on Thursday, playing air stewardess to her fellow players and dishing out drinks and safety instructions with equal enthusiasm.

The 27-year-old Micromax Indian Aces player (above) even knelt to plead with the umpire to let a challenge go her way in her match against DBS Singapore Slammers' Serena Williams on Wednesday.

Granted, players were mostly in a relaxed mode during the inaugural four-legged IPTL, which does not offer ranking points and straddles the post- and pre-seasons.

But the Serb has carried this relaxed attitude on the Tour for more than a year, to great effect.

On her 2014 season, Ivanovic said: "I started to make some changes about a year or 18 months ago... I really try to take it (tennis) as fun, as a game and to get joy in my life.

"It is a tough life being always on the road and I want to embrace this and seek positivity. I also have a great team around me who are working hard - they make it easier for me to win."

The 2008 French Open champion and former world No. 1 clinched four titles this year - the ASB Classic in Auckland, the Monterrey Open, the Aegon Classic in Birmingham and the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo - and qualified for the Women's Tennis Association Finals in Singapore for the first time since 2008.

She started the season at 16th in the world and finished in the top five.

She will begin the new season with the Brisbane International from Jan 4 to 11, a key warm-up tournament for the Australian Open later that month, the first Major of the year.

While some are sceptical about IPTL's place in the tennis calendar, Ivanovic sees value in travelling to Asia in the off-season.

GOOD TEST

"These are great sparring matches, you know. During preparation sometimes, you don't have many chances to go against the top girls - this is good to actually test myself," said Ivanovic, who has gone up against Maria Sharapova and Williams over two legs of the tournament, albeit in more relaxed conditions than on Tour.

She added: " I also get to have a bit of fun and enjoy the team atmosphere, because the off-season is very hard work and involves a lot of time on your own.

"So, to actually spend some time with a team and make a few jokes is nice."