Rising Stars Of 2014: Jovana
Published April 18, 2014 12:14
Until a few weeks ago she was best known for saving a whopping 14 match points in the final of an ITF Women's Circuit event this year, but Jovana Jaksic took it to a whole new level in Monterrey a few weeks ago, storming through to her first WTA final - and dancing her way into people's hearts.
The Abierto Monterrey was already Jaksic's favorite event - she made her WTA main draw debut there a year earlier and made the second round before losing to Maria Kirilenko. But she won over the fans.
"The crowd was just amazing," Jaksic told wtatennis.com. "Maria took a break at one point in the match and there was music on and I just felt so much energy from the fans, and I just got up and danced!
"Monterrey is my second home. I love being here and playing here. If you ask me, I could stay here forever and play all the tournaments here. What I have with the crowd is unique and it's something I dream about sometimes. Last year we made that bond, and I still have those emotions.
"I love them so much. I think they love me too, but I think I love them more."
Fast forward to the 2014 edition of the event and Jaksic had another special moment - it was the first time she got into a WTA main draw as a direct entrant, having qualified for all of them until then.
That may have helped her. Having never won back-to-back main draw matches at the WTA level, Jaksic made it all the way to her first WTA final, even coming back from three match points down in the second round and edging Kimiko Date-Krumm in a two-hour, 54-minute semifinal marathon.
Jaksic's first WTA final was also the very first all-Serbian WTA final, against Ana Ivanovic, and it showcased a mentor-mentee relationship that could come into play for years to come on the WTA.
"Ana's one of my best friends, she's really like my big sister, and I will be so happy to face her tomorrow," Jaksic said going into the final. "I was cheering for her in her semifinal tonight."
"Jovana is such a great girl and she has been on a great run - it's inspiring to see how motivated and excited she is," Ivanovic said. "I'm really happy for her and I know it will be fun for both of us."
Ivanovic would win that one in the end, but there was a moment - well, a few minutes, actually - during the trophy ceremony that showed Jaksic isn't just a raw competitor, but also a radiant personality.
"I love singing and dancing," Jaksic told wtatennis.com in her Getting To Know interview. "I love music. Every time I'm not on the court, I'm listening to music. Even right now, my iPod is in my hand!
"I don't really have one favorite singer - I just enjoy music. I mostly listen to Serbian music since I'm not at home that much. I've said a few times that if I weren't a tennis player, I'd sing. I was always singing in school. I'm not really sure if the people around me like my singing, but I enjoy it!"