Ivanovic battling fitness, knee injury
BELGRADE -- Ana Ivanovic's sharp loss of form since she won last year's French Open, and a niggling knee injury, have cast doubts over her title defense at the Paris Grand Slam, which starts on Sunday.
The Serb pulled out of the Madrid Open earlier this month with the recurring injury, which worsened after her country's Fed Cup win over Spain in April.
The 21-year-old from Belgrade vowed to be fit for her French defense but coach Craig Cardon was recently quoted by the tennis channel Web site as saying her appearance there was doubtful.
"I am not sure she is even going to be able to play at the French Open because of this knee injury," Cardon said, although he added: "I know her confidence is still pretty high and her level of play is good enough for Ana to win it again."
Even if she plays, the world No. 8 will need more than confidence to retain her Roland Garros crown after plummeting down the WTA rankings from the No. 1 spot she grabbed after taking last year's title.
Don't miss a moment of the latest tennis coverage from around the world. Follow us on Twitter and stay informed. Join »
If she does miss the French Open, Ivanovic will almost certainly drop out of the top 10 -- a severe setback after becoming the first Serb to climb to the WTA summit.
Fellow Serb Jelena Jankovic, who ended 2008 as the world No. 1 without ever winning a Grand Slam title, has had to battle her own problems in a disappointing season.
Her lightning reflexes, stamina and speed around the court, qualities that powered her consistent rise in 2008, disappeared after she gained weight during the Christmas break after building up extra muscle and strength.
Jankovic made a fourth-round exit from the Australian Open and her Madrid quarterfinal defeat by Swiss Patty Schnyder has made her drop to fifth in the WTA rankings.
"I expected a lot more of myself in Madrid, but it's history and I now have to raise my game for the French Open," Jankovic was quoted as saying by Serbian media after the loss.
"I know where I have to improve and I also have to make radical changes to be No. 1 one again," she said.
MORE TENNIS HEADLINES
- Serena, Djokovic selected as ITF world champs
- Berdych brings on ex-Murray coach Vallverdu
- Indian Aces win inaugural IPTL exhibition event
- All 100 top-ranked men set for Aussie Open
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
2009 FRENCH OPEN
Women's singles: Svetlana Kuznetsova, Russia
Roger Federer, Switzerland
Men's doubles: Lukas Dlouhy, Czech Republic and Leander Paes, India
Women's doubles: Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual, Spain
Mixed doubles: Liezel Huber and Bob Bryan, United States
Follow us on Twitter