Former World No. 1 Ana Ivanovic will be especially motivated to try to win Serbia its first Fed Cup title next month after ending a poor run of form in the Grand Slams, she told R-Sport on Monday.
Since winning her only Grand Slam title at the 2008 French Open, Ivanovic failed to make it into the last eight at 17 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments before reaching the quarterfinals at last month's U.S. Open, where she lost to Serena Williams.
"It was like a monkey off my shoulder," Ivanovic said, adding that sometimes she found the pressure "overwhelming" in big matches.
"It was a huge step for me to get to the quarterfinals and just to prove to myself that I can be there and I actually belong there when I do things the way it should be done."
Ending that record means that confidence is building for next month's Fed Cup final in Prague and for a new start next season, she said.
"It does give confidence. And it's a huge week and would be great to win it and finish the season on a high," she said.
Ivanovic admitted that representing the tennis-mad nation of Serbia gives rise to even more nerves than usual, and suggesting her team could benefit from forming closer bonds before the final.
"If you do well, it's for the team, and if you don't, you sort of feel like you let the team down. So definitely there is more nerves involved," she said.
"I think we could get a little more of that, a little more of the team spirit happening, because it's nice to be part of a team."
As fourth seed, Ivanovic is one of the players to benefit from a first-round bye at the Kremlin Cup.
A lucky draw means that her second-round opponent will be one of two qualifiers yet to be determined, before a potential third-round match with Russia's Nadia Petrova, who won in Tokyo last month.