MELBOURNE: Faced with a dwindling number of local stars, Australian fans are turning to imported players — with “Aussie Ana” Ivanovic the latest adopted heroine. Ivanovic, a former world number one and sometime friend of Australian golfer Adam Scott, also has an uncle living in Mentone, a suburb of Melbourne.
With no home-grown women left in the Australian Open’s third round, Ivanovic was asked if she’d like to stand in as an honorary Aussie. “Thank you for the offer. I’d be happy. I think people here are so lovely so I love coming here,” Ivanovic said. “It’s my favorite Grand Slam. I’m so happy it’s the beginning of the year so I can come even earlier.” Ivanovic follows in the tradition of “Aussie Kim” Clijsters, who was taken to Australian hearts during her relationship with Lleyton Hewitt and remained feted by the Melbourne crowds until her retirement last year.
After the departures of Hewitt and Sam Stosur, the only Australian left standing is the controversial Bernard Tomic, whose brash manner and run-ins with the police have not endeared him to all sections of the public.