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Jankovic welcomes changing of the guard in women's tennis

Former world no 1 not bothered by entry of new players

Jelena Jankovic
Image Credit: Francois Nel/Gulf News
Jelena Jankovic practises before the start of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships where she reached the singlesfinal in her debut in 2005. She followed this up with three semi-final appearances in 2007 and 2008 and in 2011.
Gulf News

Dubai: Former world No 1 Jelena Jankovic has welcomed the changing of the guard currently taking place in the world of women's tennis.

"Obviously things are getting tougher as there is a change in generations. There are a lot of young girls coming up on the Tour and they have great potential and are playing great tennis," Jankovic admitted in her interaction with the media after the official draw of the Dubai Duty Free Women's Open here on Saturday.

"Some of the older ones that I used to play with, they have either retired or they are going away. So I am kind of in-between even though I am only 26 years old. So it's a change, but it's nice to see new faces. I still try to compete and I just want to try to do my best. It doesn't matter who is on the other side of the net," the Serbian said.

Jankovic has had a fair amount of success in Dubai, reaching the singles final in her debut in 2005. She followed this up with three semi-finals in 2007 and 2008 and in 2011.

"I played the finals here when I was 18 or 19. Last year, I played the semis and in a few other years as well, but I would like to reach the final again. That would be nice and I will try my best," Jankovic said.

Tough field

But she knows that things are not getting any easy with each passing year.

"It's a tough field and there are so many great players in the draw, and it will be tough competition," she said.

"But it does feel like a home tournament for me. I have a lot of support and a lot of friends here. I really appreciate that and I think it helps me a lot when I am playing," she added.

The Serbian has also set herself the task of breaking into the top-five by the end of the year, along with the glory of having an Olympic medal around her neck.

"Considering that I've had a lot of injuries this year, my goal would be to get back into the top-five and try and stay healthy," Jankovic said.

"I got injured even at the Fed Cup when I tore a muscle. So it's hard, but I am really trying my best to come back. I have been consistently in the top-ten for five years and last year was the first time I finished No 14. Now I am No 13, but I would like to come back and be one of those top players and be really successful again," she said. Prominent among her aspirations is an Olympic medal and also, if possible, the US Open title.

Trophy collection

"I could make a list of the tournaments I want to win, but first of all I want is an Olympic Games medal. And I really love the US Open as well. It would be really nice to win just one of those big events and add to the collection of my other trophies. An Olympic medal would be very special. To wear it around my neck, shining, that would be special," Jankovic said.

"That is my goal and my dream. So we will see if it happens," she smiled.