Australian Open 2012: Novak Djokovic Leads Serbian Stars Back into the Limelight

Candice HareContributor IIIJanuary 22, 2012

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 06:  Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic of Serbia talk to the media before their mixed doubles match against Justine Henin and Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium on day six of the Hopman Cup at The Burswood Dome on January 6, 2011 in Perth, Australia.  (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Paul Kane/Getty Images

In 2008, the tennis world fell in love with its young, up-and-coming Serbian stars. During that year, Novak Djokovic was ranked third, right behind the then-dominant duo of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, and both Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic spent time at the top of the women's rankings. 

If that wasn't impressive enough, both Djokovic and Ivanovic also won their maiden major titles in the Australian and French Opens, respectively. 

Fast forward two years, and it was a much different story. 

Although he had a brief stint at No. 2, Djokovic finished the season in the same spot that he finished the three seasons before—at No. 3 in the world. He had also failed to win another major title since his breakthrough victory in Melbourne in 2008. 

While Djokovic's career had seemingly stagnated, Jankovic and Ivanovic's were on the decline, as a series of disappointing finishes left Jankovic ranked eighth and Ivanovic ranked 17th. 

Once the story on tour, the Serbian trio was quickly being forgotten, left in the shadows of the likes of Federer, Nadal, Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki. 

This year's Australian Open, however, has marked the resurgence of the Serbian stars. 

Djokovic's incredible 2011 season that included three major titles has been widely documented, but it was unclear how he would handle the pressure of being the man on top of the men's tour. Not only has he handled that pressure and the pressure of being the defending champion in Melbourne, but he has shown himself to once again be the man to beat. 

Ivanovic has reached the fourth round of the Australian Open for the first time since she reached the finals in 2008. Her serving woes seem to be largely behind her, and her confidence definitely seems to be back. 

Although Jankovic lost her fourth-round match against the top-seeded Wozniacki, reaching the fourth round was her best result in Melbourne since 2009.

They are three of the most popular players on tour, but for the sake of the game and its fans, let's hope that they become increasingly known for their game and big results instead of just their personalities.