Ivanovic rises in rankings with Tournament of Champions win
Ana Ivanovic ended the season on a positive note by defeating Alisa Kleybanova 6-2, 7-6 in the final of the Tournament of Champions in Bali on Sunday.
Ivanovic weathered some heavy hitting from her Russian opponent before breaking to lead 4-2 and won the final 11 points of the first set.
Kleybanova broke to lead 2-1 in the second, but Ivanovic immediately broke back with a stunning winner down the line, and her resilience under pressure, together with some fine serving, continued to give her the advantage.
Ivanovic faced a crisis at 5-5, but saved two break points and went on to claim victory with her eighth ace of the match.
The last few weeks have shown a remarkable turnaround for the Serbian former world number one, who has struggled since winning the French Open in 2008.
Ivanovic saw her ranking sink to 65 in July but her fortunes began to improve in August when she reached the semi-finals in Cincinnati before retiring against Kim Clijsters with an injury.
She also won three matches at the US Open before losing to Clijsters.
The Serb defeated Elena Dementieva to reach the quarter-finals of the China Open, before winning her first title in two years in Linz. With her victory against Kleybanova she will rise to 17, her highest ranking in more than a year.
Image: Ana Ivanovic
'I realised that I had to be patient'
"I got to number one and I thought: 'This is great and I have to play even better to improve', and I started changing my technique and the way I was working," she said in explaining her slide down the world rankings.
"It wasn't good because I had a certain rhythm and I lost that, and then a few injuries crept in and then you lose matches you expect to win. That was hard and I took it very personally and was very hard on myself and brought myself down.
"Having more wins under your belt helps build your confidence, but it's a long process. At one point I wasn't really aware of that. I wanted to have results and get back to the top straight away but sometimes it takes longer than you anticipate.
"It was a big thing for me to realise it takes time and you have to be patient.
"There will be some up and downs until to get to that level where I feel comfortable playing against top players all the time, but I feel very confident about my game and my fitness.
"I feel my game is getting close to where it used to be and I'm even more aggressive, and experience-wise I'm much more mature and a more complete player now."
Image: Ana Ivanovic