Ivanovic hopes for memorable US Open

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/i/ivanovic_ap.jpg' class='caption'> Ana Ivanovic of Serbia is hoping to make the 2007 US Open a memorable one for herself and her fans.

Updated: August 31, 2007 14:43 IST
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New York:

Autograph requests come in all shapes and forms. US Open contender Ana Ivanovic has had some dazzlers.

One guy asked the 19-year-old rising star to pen his underwear. Another this week wanted her signature on his forehead.

"I was like, are you kidding?" she said with a laugh. "I didn't (sign his head). I felt bad for him walking with a sign."

Ivanovic's sympathy doesn't extend to on court, where she has become the youngest player in the world's top 10, and one of the hottest players on the WTA Tour.

She became the first Serbian woman to reach a Grand Slam final at Roland Garros, then pushed eventual champion Venus Williams in the Wimbledon semifinals. She won her second title of the year in Los Angeles this month and matched her previous best US Open performance by reaching the third round on Wednesday after defeating Aravane Rezai of France 6-3, 6-1.

"Coming into the tournament, my goal is to play better than I did last year, to reach the second week because I have never done that here," said the fifth-ranked Ivanovic.

"There's a lot of tough opponents in my part of the draw so I want to play the best I can. But I feel very good physically and mentally, and I think I'm playing well at the moment."

If Ivanovic can get past her next opponent, Vera Dushevina of Russia, a likely fourth-round showdown with Williams awaits. Then she could meet compatriot and third-seeded Jelena Jankovic.

Ivanovic, Jankovic, and countryman Novak Djokovic were feted by thousands at Belgrade City Hall after the trio reached at least the semifinals of the French Open in June.

Ivanovic said they continue to spur each other.

"I see it as motivation to play better than them, maybe go one step further," she said. "I think they are in the same situation. It's great for all of us."

The memory of the reception in Belgrade still tickles Ivanovic. She can remember as a child going to the square to honor the country's victorious volleyball and basketball teams.

Now they come to see her. Serbian NBA star Nenad Krstic watched her play on Wednesday.

"Tennis is becoming one of the major sports back home," Ivanovic said. "Wherever we go we get recognised."

And receive strange autograph requests.

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