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Jankovic Ready To Turn Tables

Jelena Jankovic has lost her last five meetings with Maria Sharapova but is in an upbeat mood ahead of their French Open quarterfinal.

Published June 04, 2013 12:00

Jankovic Ready To Turn Tables
Jelena Jankovic

PARIS, France - Jelena Jankovic was a woman in a hurry on Monday evening. After waiting around for the best part of five hours while Stanislas Wawrinka and Richard Gasquet's fourth round encounter metamorphosed from routine straight-setter to five-set epic, Jankovic stepped out into the evening gloom to deliver a clay court masterclass against Jamie Hampton.

The 60 62 victory, completed before the on-court clock had struck the hour mark, sees Jankovic return to the quarterfinals of a major for the first time in exactly three years, where she will meet defending champion Maria Sharapova.

"I knew there wasn't a lot of time to play, an hour and a half, before it gets dark," Jankovic said of her battle against the clock. "I was focused from the first point on and really played my tennis, played my game.

"Waiting for such a long time for a match to finish makes you kind of sluggish and sleepy and slow. So I just tried my best to keep myself awake - I even had coffee! - because otherwise it's difficult to just go out there and perform on a high level."

Despite her status as a former World No.1, Jankovic has managed to fly under the radar somewhat in Paris - a situation she has used to her advantage.

"I don't really worry about things like whether I am one of the favorites," she said. "I've just been thinking about my matches, about my game and my tactics against the next opponent.

"Peripheral things at a tournament and whether people are talking about me or not don't really bother me, as long as I'm playing well."

And playing well she is. Victory over Hampton was her 22nd from her last 28 matches, a run that has included a title in Bogotá, as well as impressive showings in Miami, Charleston and Rome.

So, what is the key behind this rich vein of form?

"A lot of practice," the World No.18 revealed. "I train a lot and do a lot of repetition drills. But, it's also a lot to do with belief. That's, I think, what wasn't there before and what I was really missing.

"I go now for my shots more, and I believe I can make them, especially that backhand! That's the shot that pays my bills!"

The upturn in fortunes has seen the 28-year-old creep back up the rankings, and a few more wins in Paris could yet see her head into the grass court season back inside the Top 10. To do that, though, she will first have to see off Sharapova, who she has not defeated in nearly six years.

"Every match is a new match and it's a challenge," she said of their upcoming semifinal. "It's going to be our first encounter on clay and she's obviously been playing very well on this surface in the last few years.

"I'll go out there and try to play my best tennis and try to perform on a very high level and we'll see how it goes."

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