Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - How about our latest tennis comeback queen? Ana Ivanovic.
Just like her fellow Serb Jelena Jankovic did last year, Ivanovic has gotten herself back into the Top-10 picture for the first time in years.
Ivanovic took the tennis world by storm (kind of) in the late 2000s, reaching a French Open final and a Wimbledon semifinal in 2007 and reaching the Australian Open final and capturing her first (and only) Grand Slam title at the French Open in 2008.
All that success landed AI atop the world rankings in June 2008, but she then promptly tumbled mightily after getting to the top, dipping outside the Top 20 by the next season.
Ivanovic never battled any serious injury problem, rather she admitted she suffered with confidence issues after that, succumbing to the pressures of being the hunted instead of the hunter.
Following her rise to the top in '08, Ivanovic failed to rest inside the top 10 over the next five years, including a pair of year-end spots outside the Top 20 in 2009 and 2011. Heck, after winning that French Open in '08, Ana came up goose eggs in failing to reach even one quarterfinal in 17 straight Grand Slams before finally breaking through at the 2012 U.S. Open. Four of those 17 Slams resulted in stunning opening-round losses. And after reaching that U.S. Open quarterfinals in '12, Ivanovic went quarterfinal-less at the majors last year before righting the ship at this year's Aussie.
She still hasn't reached a major semi since winning the French six years ago.
But that could change in the near future.
Ivanovic is currently ranked 13th in the world and has moved into the semifinals at this week's clay court French Open tune-up in Rome. A title this week would land her back in the Top 10.
The 26-year-old star opened her latest campaign with a confidence-boosting championship in Auckland, where she won five matches, including a title tilt one against fellow former world No. 1 Venus Williams at the ASB Classic in January.
She then surprised many a tennis fan by climbing into an Aussie Open quarterfinal by shocking heavy pre-tournament favorite Serena Williams in the fourth round in Melbourne. Unfortunately for the Serb, she was then upset by promising Canadian Eugenie Bouchard in the round of eight Down Under.
Ivanovic then hit a lackluster stretch where she failed to reach a quarterfinal in four straight events before catching fire again in Mexico in the first week of April. She handled fellow former top-ranked star Caroline Wozniacki in a semifinal at the Monterrey Open before pasting unheralded fellow Serb Jovana Jaksic in the final for her second title of 2014.
Prior to this season, Ivanovic hadn't captured a WTA title since 2011. What a difference a few years make.
The surging Ivanovic reached yet another final in Stuttgart last month before giving way to another fellow former No. 1, Maria Sharapova, at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.
She has followed up Stuttgart with a quarterfinal run last week in Madrid and at least a semifinal appearance this week in Rome.
Ivanovic has beaten the likes of the reigning world No. 1 Serena, former No. 1s Sharapova, Jankovic, Wozniacki and Venus, as well as former U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur and Top-10 German Angelique Kerber this year. The Sharapova win came just this week, in the third round in Rome, as Maria had been 48-3 on clay since 2012, with the three losses coming only at the hands of the amazing Serena.
Ivanovic has already beaten four Top-10 players this year, one in which has been defined by her consistency, thanks to an improved backhand, improved movement and improved on-court demeanor.
She's already appeared in three finals this season and we're still only in May. Her next final would be the 20th (13-6) of her lucrative career.
I'm not sayin' the 11-year-pro Ivanovic will ever make a return to No. 1, but moving back inside the Top 10 would be quite an accomplishment for the three- time major finalist and one-time-left-for-dead star.