Former world number one Ana Ivanovic reached the US Open second round Tuesday before admitting she was mourning a childhood friend who drowned in a Serbian river last week.
The 25-year-old Ivanovic opened her New York campaign with a comfortable 6-2, 6-0 win over Anna Tatishvili of Georgia as the former French Open champion looks to build on her best US Open performance of a quarter-final run in 2012.
However, her build-up was overshadowed by the death of Vukasin Ziramov, with whom she played as a child growing up in Serbia.
The 25-year-old pharmacy student drowned after leaping into the River Tisa.
"It's very sad news. It was very hard because he was almost like my relative. We grew up, and I knew him since we were kids. It's very, very sad," said Ivanovic.
Meanwhile, the 13th-seeded Ivanovic, who next plays Romania's Alexandra Dulgheru, has arrived in New York boasting significant changes to her sport and her lifestyle.
After Wimbledon, where she fell in the secound round, she parted with coach Nigel Sears and is now working with fellow Serbs Zlatko Novkovic and Branko Penic.
"It's been really good. It's been very refreshing. It's the first time I have a Serbian team with me," said Ivanovic of the duo, who work in tandem with veteran coach Sven Groeneveld.
"It also makes me feel better because it's someone that understands the mentality and can sort of understand you on a lot deeper level. Obviously communication is very important."
Ivanovic has also become the latest player to join Twitter, leaving Australia's Samantha Stosur as the only woman in the world top 20 to remain tweet-free.
But she is still learning the ropes and, with a modest 33,000 followers, she may be tempted to enlist the help of Twitter heavyweights Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, who have 2.25 million and almost five million followers respectively.
"I had people trying to persuade me to start for years, actually. I have been very resistant, but I did join and I'm enjoying it. It's a lot of fun and it's interaction with people. I didn't regret my decision," she said.
"I haven't had a chance to speak to them (Djokovic and Nadal), but I definitely will. I know they are both very, very popular on Twitter. Hopefully we can have some interactions, and you guys can see a little bit lighter side of things."