Former World number one Ana Ivanovic will return to Eastbourne to compete in the AEGON International in June.
It is the third time the 24-year-old Serbian star has appeared at the tournament after being eliminated by Venus Williams in the second round of the Devonshire Park event last year and Nadia Petrova in the first round in 2009.
The tournament, held a week before Wimbledon, represents a final chance for Ivanovic to compete on grass before the show-piece event in SW19.
Since turning professional Ivanovic has only once reached the semi-final stage at the one Grand Slam event held on grass. She’ll no doubt be looking to use her time on the Sunshine Coast to help her improve this record when Wimbledon-fever hits the nation.
The six-foot Serb has won 11 Women’s Tennis Association singles titles in her career and winning number 12 at Devonshire Park would help her improve her world ranking.
Having hit the number-one spot in June 2008, Iavnovic found herself outside of the top 20 at the 2011 end of season world rankings for only the second time in the last seven years.
After being eliminated in the fourth round of the opening Grand Slam of the year, The Australian Open, Ivanovic will be looking to repeat her 2008 victory at Roland Garros in May before she entertains the crowds in Eastbourne in mid-June.
Ivanovic has expressed her delight at taking part in the annual event at Devonshire Park, “Eastbourne is a charming tournament and it’s one of the most competitive on the tour.”
Ivanovic added that the quality of the playing surfaces at the Devonshire Park venue is one of the things that most attracts her to this annual tournament; “I enjoy competing at Eastbourne for a number of reasons, one of them is the facilities. The grass is beautiful.”
The tournament will be Ana’s first on grass this season and will be quickly followed by Wimbledon and, in July, the Olympic Tennis event which will also be held at the home of English tennis. During her time in England Ivanovic will joined by former Lawn Tennis Association Head of Women’s Tennis Nigel Sears, the British coach she appointed in 2011.
If Ivanovic is to improve on last year’s second round exit she’ll have to overcome strong opposition. Last year’s event saw 13 of the top 20 ranked female players take part at the AEGON International with the title being taken by world number seven Marion Bartoli.
So far 2012 has been a relatively successful year for Ivanovic. However, her joy at reaching the semi-finals at Indian Wells turned to despair.
Trailing by one set she found herself one game down at the start of the second when she was forced to retire with an injury to her left hip That semi-final appearance, among other results, have enabled Ivanovic to return to the World top 20.
Currently sitting in 15th place, one of Eastbourne’s biggest sporting events provides Ana with the opportunity to move further towards the prestigious World top ten.
A bumper crowd is expected this year – particularly on the opening day of the tournament, after it was announced that entry to the grounds will be free. Centre court and court one will also have unreserved seating.
The AEGON International takes place from June 16-23. Ticket information visit: www.aegoninternational.co.uk/tickets