Ana Ivanovic, who is ranked 23rd, is 29-19 in singles play this year. (Carlos M. Saavedra/SI)
In an interview before the BGL BNP Paribas Open in Luxembourg, Ana Ivanovic discussed the back injury that forced her to retire from her quarterfinal match in Beijing two weeks ago.
Editor's note: The original interview was conducted in French. The below quotes are printed as appeared when run through Google Translate:
"I suffered from lower back injury is a kind of spinal degeneration, which was probably already present for some time and that is kindled [sic], which hurts me especially when I bow my legs. It is undoubtedly an evil that will not disappear anytime soon, so I must be very careful. But I felt good, I hit the ball well and I'm pretty fresh physically and in my head."
Ivanovic's agent confirmed to SI.com that the 23-year-old's injury is sacroiliac joint inflammation, not spinal degeneration.
She plans to manage the pain and play through the end of the year, which includes this week's tournament in Luxembourg, where she is the No. 5 seed, and the Tournament of Champions in Bali, where she's received a wild card to defend her title. She kicked off her Luxembourg campaign Wednesday with a 7-6 (2), 6-4 victory over Virginie Razzano.
It's been a long three years for the Serb since she won the French Open and ascended to No. 1 in 2008. Now ranked No. 23, Ivanovic admits that she didn't handle the pressure well following her maiden Grand Slam title, but she has been able to put together some confidence-building results this year.
Here's more from her interview:
"I am confident that my game is there, and can allow me to reach [my goals], I just need to learn how to handle pressure. I had many more requests after winning a Grand Slam and occupied the place of No. 1 world, and I also generated a lot of expectations. It became like a new job for me, between what I had to do left and right to meet those demands. It's very hard."Getting strong and healthy will be the top priority for Ivanovic during the offseason, and one has to wonder if playing through this back injury -- just one of a series of injuries she's suffered this year -- is a wise move.