GUANGZHOU, China - Former No.1 Jelena Jankovic is just one win away from defending her title at the Guangzhou International Women's Open, defeating teen sensation and US Open quarterfinalist Ana Konjuh, 7-5, 7-6(7). Lesia Tsurenko awaits in the final after the Ukrainian surged past Anett Kontaveit, 6-4, 6-2.
Jankovic had been struggling with shoulder issues throughout the season, forcing her out of the Olympic tennis event and leading to an early loss at the US Open. But it's all come together for the defending champion in Guangzhou, who saw off a tough challenge from Konjuh.
"I'm very happy to be in the final here again in Guangzhou," she said in her post-match press conference. "I'm happy with my win today, and I look forward to playing tomorrow in the final and hopefully defending my title from last year.
"It was very tough. My performance was good, but I thought my opponent played so well; she was hitting the ball so hard, and she's one of the players who has the heaviest and most powerful ball. It was difficult for me to hit back and play my game. I was trying to fight, get as many balls back, and be as aggressive as I could when I had the chance. I'm happy I was able to win in the end because it was a really difficult game."
In addition to a winning week in singles thus far, Jankovic also reached the semifinals in doubles with former No.1 Martina Hingis.
"I really enjoy playing with Martina; it's a great pleasure for me to be partners with her for the first time."
Winning three titles in China last year, the Serb certainly feels the love in China, and is aiming to replicate this early form through a busy schedule in the Asian Swing.
"I love playing in China; I've had quite a lot of success in this part of the world, year after year. I'm looking forward to playing Wuhan, Beijing, and Hong Kong, and I'll try my best to do well after coming back from injury. Hopefully, it will go well."
"She's a top player and a former No.1 in the world," Tsurenko said when asked about playing Jankovic in the final. "She's really tough mentally and likes to play here, obviously because she's defending champion. I will have to show my good tennis for sure, good serve, return, and rallies."
"Last time I was here was two or three years ago, and that was a nice experience because I got to see a lot of the city. This year has been great as well; everyone is working so hard to make our stay as nice as possible."