What a week!

What a week!

I have just had probably the busiest, and certainly one of the most rewarding, weeks of my career. It’s an experience I will never forget.

Where do I start?! Just to backtrack a little bit: I had a very nice holiday in Australia after leaving Melbourne. I also did some fitness work while I was there, and enjoyed the beaches. My surfing has improved a lot!

I arrived in Belgrade on Sunday. Even though the Fed Cup matches didn’t start until Saturday, we spent almost a whole week preparing, and taking part in many off-court activities.

Most importantly I had to adapt from the extreme heat and outdoor conditions of Australia to the cold of Serbia and an indoor court. Fortunately the playing surface was quite similar to Melbourne, so that helped.

Wednesday was certainly the busiest day of the week. I practised at the Arena and afterwards I visited the 11 April sports center, where I trained as a kid. It was a wonderful experience, going back there and seeing my old trainers.

In fact, my old sports teacher Marija is the Fed Cup trainer, and my old coach Dejan is the captain, so I was catching up with many familiar faces throughout the week.

The main reason to visit April 11 was to film some sequences for a feature that will be shown on HBO television around the time of the BNP Paribas Showdown exhibition in New York next month. It will be interesting to see how it turns out.

In the evening we had dinner with the Japanese ambassador to Serbia, and then I went to Pionir Hall, home of Partizan Belgrade basketball team. The atmosphere there is simply unbelievable. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced in tennis. They sometimes say that “the roof is gonna come off” when a crowd is very noisy, and on this occasion it really did seem a possibility.

There were quite a few other activities surrounding the Fed Cup, for example the official dinner, the draw ceremony and several press conferences. The team hotel, believe it or not, was about three minutes from my parents’ house, yet I stayed there for most of the time to relax on my own, have treatment and be with the rest of the team, including the support staff.

I was very nervous on Friday! The long build-up to the tie, the first proper event I had played in Serbia, gave me plenty of time to think about what it would be like on-court. There was great excitement in the city, especially among my friends and family.

The Belgrade Arena is an excellent facility. It’s quite new and it holds over 20,000 people. I felt the expectation of the supporters before my match began: because of our rankings Jelena and I were expected to win easily, but we never once underestimated our opponents.

In the end the five days of practice and general preparation paid off very well, as Jelena and I won all our matches in straight sets. The atmosphere, as I had anticipated, was amazing throughout the matches. It was so good that I couldn’t resist playing the fourth rubber, even though the match didn’t really mean much.

It was a good opportunity to play another competitive match and I was very happy with how I played. I was aggressive from the first point and approached the net many times. It was the best I have felt on court in quite some time.

The press conference at the end of the tie was very funny. A very talented junior player, Aleksandra Krunic, was a non-playing member of our team, so she could gain some experience of the Fed Cup. She’s only 15 and she has a great sense of humour: she caused a lot of amusement when we faced the press.

A journalist asked me about my new coach. Before I had the chance to answer, Aleksandra said, “Didn’t you know? I’m Ana’s new coach.” Even the captain Dejan, whom off the court is a real joker but during press conferences is so serious, couldn’t help laughing at that.

Late on Sunday night many of the team and our friends and family had a quiet celebration at a bar in the city. We are all excited about the draw for the next round. I would love to play in Belgrade again.

I would like to thank everyone who came to the tie to support us, and also the organizers. It was the first ever Fed Cup tie in Serbia, and everything went very well. The security guys who accompanied me to many events are some of the most generous guys I have ever met.

I wish I had time to write more, because so much happened, but that’s a basic summary of my week.

On Wednesday I will meet some children who are part of UNICEF’s School Without Violence programme that I support, then I will go to Dubai for my next tournament.

We will announce news about my new coach very soon!

Love
Ana