Kleybanova's Journey Inspires Jankovic
Published April 29, 2014 12:12
While her Stuttgart challenge may have ended in quarterfinal defeat, Alisa Kleybanova knows that she has come out on top in a far more important battle over the past few years.
Three years ago, Kleybanova's charge up the rankings was placed on hold indefinitely when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. Following a successful course of treatment the Russian briefly returned to the tour in 2012 before making a full-time comeback last May, easing herself back into competitive tennis with a mixture of the odd high-profile tournament and appearances on the ITF Circuit.
The Russian has stepped up her activity and competition level this year, playing eight events, with the highlights being last week's run in Stuttgart and a fourth round showing at Indian Wells.
In Stuttgart, her campaign was ended by doubles partner Jelena Jankovic, who prevailed over two closely contested sets. After the match, Jankovic was effusive in her praise of the strength Kleybanova has shown in not just overcoming her illness but also returning to compete at such a high level.
"She showed that she is such a strong girl and it's very inspirational to others that she was able to come after such a tough illness and it's even more amazing that she is here competing at such a high level against all of us here," Jankovic said.
Kleybaova's wins in Germany saw her return to the Top 100 and Jankovic is hoping the best is still to come. "I'm very proud of her and I'm a big fan of her. I cheer for her every time she plays against other people and I support her," she added. "She's a lovely girl. She's an amazing person which is more important than being a great player, at least in my opinion."