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Thursday, June 23, 2011
Ivanovic makes a comeback, Djokovic makes a friend

By Sandra Harwitt

After Ana Ivanovic won her only Grand Slam title, the 2008 French Open, she became the 17th woman to rank No. 1 on the WTA computer. But all has not been rosy for the Serbian since then.

Ivanovic could write the medical book on player injuries, as she has had her fair share of problems: right thumb, right adductor, right shoulder, abdominal. When Ivanovic had been healthy enough to play, she struggled with consistency and confidence. She fell to 65th last July.

These days, Ivanovic can feel her form coming back. Now ranked 18th, she reached the semifinals two weeks ago at the Birmingham, England, tournament in preparation for Wimbledon. She beat Eleni Daniilidou of Greece, 6-3, 6-0 , on Thursday to advance to Wimbledon's third round.

When not playing tennis, Ivanovic finds reading is a good way to relax.

"Actually, I just read the book The Island by Victoria Hislop," said Ivanovic, referring to the novel that features a love triangle, leprosy and a look at family heritage in Crete. "It was a really good book. I read it within five days. I promise."

Not one to be caught without a good read, Ivanovic is already turning the pages of her next book, a coming-of-age story of student protests and failed love in the late 1960s. "[Haruki] Murakami," she said, mentioning the author of her current read. "I got recommended Norwegian Wood. We'll see."

Communing with nature

When Novak Djokovic isn't busy working on his 43-1 record for the year, he likes to get away from the grind of Wimbledon, too, just like Ivanovic, his countrywoman and childhood friend.

But while Ivanovic reaches for a book, Djokovic likes to spend his time outdoors.

"Well, in London? I'm a big admirer of the nature," Djokovic said after his 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 second-round win over Kevin Anderson of South Africa. "I think London is one of the nicest cities in the world concerning nature and parks and green all over. It's beautiful."

Djokovic, like many other players, stays in Wimbledon Village during the fortnight. Apparently he's been communing with some locals of the four-legged variety. He recently tweeted, "This little squirrel comes every day to wish us luck."

After his match he spoke about the squirrel in his press conference.

"You've seen my tweets," he said. "It's my best friend now in London, the little squirrel. She's getting closer and closer each day. I'm trying to feed her from my hand. Maybe one day."

Murray madness, Jamie-style

Andy Murray isn't the only Murray family member playing at Wimbledon.

Older brother, Jamie, is a well-known doubles player on tour. He's partnering with Sergiy Stakhovsky of the Ukraine for only the second time in their career during the tournament.

The two won their opening-round match, 6-3, 7-5, against British qualifiers David Rice and Sean Thornley on Thursday. The match, however, did not go without incident. Murray set up for a serve and accidentally whacked Stakhovsky with the ball.

"I clocked him in the ear with a serve, which was a bit random," Murray said. "I had been serving really well the whole match, and then just threw the ball up, took a bit of a gust of wind. I hit him flush in the ear, which was not ideal.

"I think he was a bit dazed for a little bit, but he seemed okay. It was a bit swollen. The doctor came on and said he probably bruised the cartilage and all that stuff, a bit of a cauliflower ear."