Jankovic Back In The Big Time
Published December 02, 2013 12:01
That Jelena Jankovic is perhaps feeling a tinge of regret after losing in the semifinals of the WTA Championships is a testament to just how well her season panned out.
By her own admission, back in January, Jankovic was not expecting to even reach Istanbul. But a campaign characterized by its remarkable consistency was almost capped off with a place in the final of the WTA's flagship event.
In the end, she was denied by the first of Serena Williams' two Istanbul escapology acts. Nevertheless, the Serb's showing in the Turkish capital, allied with the results that took her there in the first place, saw her end the year at No.8 in the world - her highest finish since 2010.
The resurgence began in Bogotá, where Jankovic, at the time in danger of dropping out of the Top 30, ended a three year title drought, and from there she never looked back.
"It's not easy. You know, I was almost about to fall out of Top 30," Jankovic said. "I was 28 in the world when I went to play Bogotá and I was defending semifinal points in Dubai, so if I lost, let's say, in the first round, I'd be 30 something in the world.
"And there was a time back then where I had a little bit of fear, and was thinking, where am I going, what direction am I going, what's the way to come back to find those keys to get back on track and be the player I can be again?
"And those were the times when, you know, I kind of had to sit back and try to fix a lot of the things that weren't going right."
The secret to this turnaround? Hard work.
"My brother came on the road with me. We worked very hard, and as well with my hitting partners and my team, and I just kept working every day," the 28-year-old continued. "I put in a lot of hours on the court, in the gym, and tried to get better.
"I think with the hard work, you know, I started having better results. My confidence was rising. I got more belief. I started doing very well in the bigger tournaments, and it gave me hope. It gave me a reason to work even harder. I got more motivated, and the better I did, the more motivated I got. I got hungrier to continue to rise up through the rankings and to just improve."
And improve she did. Encouraging performances at Indian Wells and Charleston were followed by a French Open quarterfinal and several more impressive runs on the hardcourts of North America and Asia.
On the back of these results, the Serb goes into next season with a spring in her step.
"Finishing this season by making it to Istanbul and getting back in Top 10 is a great achievement for me," Jankovic said. "I'm looking forward to playing next year and being even better as I feel like I'm really up there with the top players again.
"I'm going to have a break and recover and just to relax my mind and my body and just forget about tennis for a bit. Then I'm going to work very hard in the off-season to get myself ready for the beginning of the year, which is going to be in Australia and my next goal is to do well there."