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By Joe McDonald

Ana Ivanovic beats Tsvetana Pironkova to reach her first major quarterfinal since winning the Roland Garros title in 2008 (September 3, 2012) -- It makes sense that Ana Ivanovic is a morning person. The No. 12 seed likes playing early and getting on with the rest of her day.

Today, as the first match at the US Open, she easily put away Tsvetana Pironkova, 6-0 6-4. Just another day at the office for the bubbly morning girl.

“I'm definitely a morning person,” the former No. 1 in the world said. “The first week I was out here every morning practicing at 8:00, so I like to get up and get my day started. I do go to bed early at night, so the other night I was feeling a little bit sleepy.

“But, no, I enjoy the first matches. And also when you know exactly what time you go on it's a lot easier to prepare.”

Whatever it is, Ivanovic finds herself in the quarterfinals of a major for the first time since 2008. She came a long way from being the next big thing to an also-ran and now back to the top. For Ivanovic, it’s much like taking a ride of the Cyclone in Coney Island.

“Like a roller coaster,” she said. “There were some good moments and some tough ones, but it's a process. I understand it better now.

“There are times when you realize that it's exactly what it is: it's a process. You can't have everything at the same time. You have to, you know, be consistent on practice courts and then in the matches. I felt I had that this year. I have been quite consistent at times.

“I put myself lots of times in opportunities for the big matches and the big wins, and I never managed to do that. You know, now I have another chance, and I really hope I can pull it together this time.”

Still only 24, the Serbian beauty has some good tennis ahead of her. In 2008, she achieved the No. 1 ranking after winning the French Open, but a thumb injury forced her to pull out of the Beijing Olympics and then she lost to Julie Coin in the second round of the Open.

And from then on, it was all downhill for her in Flushing Meadows.

She lost the first round in 2009 and then two fourth round matches in 2010 and 2011. But finally she broke through this year with today’s win.

“I have been here in fourth round quite a few times, so to make that step and reach quarterfinal, and also the first time since '08 which I'm very thrilled about,” she said.

Ivanovic is also fighting a foot injury right now, which makes her run even more amazing.

“I was really unfortunate with my foot injury before the tournament, so if someone would have told me I would be in this position, you know, I'd be like, Okay, that's nice. Thank you,” she said. "I have been working really hard on recovery and on court, as well. It's kind of reward. You know, I want to enjoy that process. I still have lot of things to think about this year.”

But now the game becomes tough. In this quarterfinal coming up, she takes on No. 4 seed Serena Williams, which will be her toughest opponent so far.

“In the last year when I played her here, I thought I had some chances in the second set from the memory,” she said. But, it's always tough. She's obviously great player and she's been I think playing the best out of all the girls on tour at the moment. She's been, you know, having so many victories lately.

“Her serve is definitely her strength. You know, I really have to be sharp from the first moment on and stay aggressive and stay in the moment. You know, try to enjoy it as well and enjoy the challenge.

“It would be great opportunity for me.”

It’s easy to guess Ivanovic is hoping for a morning match.

(Photo Credit: AFP/Patrick Kovarik)


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