Jelena Jankovic Interview - Miami, Apr 5


Posted on April 6, 2008

April 5, 2008
Jelena Jankovic Interview


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. There was a point where Serena was serving 1­Love in the third set. I think it was 15­30, and it was a long point. You missed a forehand at the end that I thought you were going to make, and I think you lost several points in a row afterward. Did that feel like a turning point?
JELENA JANKOVIC: Yeah, I think those, you know, the first couple games in the third set were the crucial games, which I let them go, and I had game points in the first game, third set and the second.
You know, I had easy balls, you know, to go up 15­40, and I missed that shot. There was a lady who was little bit screaming during the point, and I lost, somehow, my focus on that shot.
Because, you know, when you're playing you're so focused. All of a sudden somebody screams from the crowd, and you ­­ in that split second you kind of ­­ I don't know what happens.
I just made that mistake and I lost those games, and then I tried to come back. I tried to fight. I thought that Serena really had trouble closing out the match.
She looked so nervous out there. I could never believe that a girl who has won so many Grand Slams, so many tournaments, could be that nervous, you know, closing out the match.
It felt like it was her first time, you know, to win that tournament. She has won it so many times.
But she was very strong, especially in the first set, you know. When she's playing her best tennis, when she's serving well, it's just tough to match up against her. Even though I work hard physically, I can never in my life be as strong as her.
So it's just a big difference. But I was trying my best out there. It was windy. It was hard for me to, you know, play the balls where I wanted them. She was the better one today, and she's the winner of this tournament.

Q. How bad did you feel at the start of the third set when you called for the trainer and the doctor?
JELENA JANKOVIC: Yeah, I was sick. You know, it was so really annoying for me to be sick, you know, and playing a final. I felt little bit weak today. I felt ­­ I couldn't breathe.
But I didn't ­­ I tried not to think about this. I tried just to play the game and just enjoy it and have fun.
Finally I finished the tournament so I can rest, because I've been on antibiotics. I think with the playing and a lot of action, being sick, you cannot recover. I think I need some rest in order to get better, and I finally can do that after today.

Q. During the medical timeout you put something in your nose.
JELENA JANKOVIC: Yeah, I started to feel a little bit dizzy in the court, light headed like when I blow my nose my ears were popping like when you're on the airplane. That's how it feels. It's uncomfortable, but what can I do?
I kept coughing and coughing, and I coughed my way through the tournament. It was really weird. (laughter.) I had to do ­­ I had to do my best in order to be here.

Q. You never thought about defaulting at all?
JELENA JANKOVIC: No. Even though I don't feel, you know, 100%, there's not ­­ nothing in my mind that will make me default so I cannot go.
I can be weak and I don't care. I will not play, I cannot compete at my best, and then just default in the final. That would be really bad for the fans. I could never do that.
So I'm sick, but I tried my best out there to play my game and to match up against, you know, very strong opponent. But obviously I didn't ­­ I couldn't do it. It was a three­set match, and it was a tough one.
I thought I could come back at the end. You know, if I had won that game at 5­4, I didn't think that could have happened. It was unlucky for me, but next time. I had a pretty good score against her ­­ I beat her in Australia and I played so much better. Here with the wind on one side it's so much tougher.
I hit so hard and my balls went past service line. It's difficult, but that's just the way it has to go.

Q. It was a crazy match. Were you laughing at yourself, looked as though.
JELENA JANKOVIC: Where? During the match? I had all these actors when I was returning. It was just funny. I was thinking that one of the actors was in that movie, if you know, White Men Can't Jump. I was feeling when I was playing that match, I thought, White Girls Can't Play, you know. (laughter.)
It was ­­ I felt like that at a certain point when I was playing against Serena. I was just like there's no way I can play with this girl. She's just too strong for me.
But, you know, I could have done it, but she was just, you know, too good at the end.

Q. Your resolve even from Love­3 down in the second set and then Love­5 down in the third set, your resolve never wavered at all. How did you find it in yourself to keep fighting?
JELENA JANKOVIC: That is one quality that I have, and there's going to be days when I'm not going to play well, like maybe today, and there are going to days when I'm going to play well. But something that is always there is my fighting spirit, no matter what the score is.
If it's 5­Love, 3­Love, whatever the score is, I'm not giving up. I'm still out there and I'm still fighting for every point, and I still believe that I can come back and win the match.
I was on my way, but unfortunately it didn't happen.

Q. Serena has home court advantage here, but did you really feel the fans and the crowd rooting for you, especially late in the second set?
JELENA JANKOVIC: Yeah, the crowd enjoyed, you know, the match. I think it was for both, but obviously she's American, and for sure she's going to have many more fans here.
But I also had many, many fans, and especially Serbian fans. You could always hear them. They're always loud, and you always know where they are.
And it's just a fun atmosphere to play in front of the crowd. It's amazing. It was a full stadium. It was a nice final overall.

Q. All of the unforced errors, especially at the end, was that a combination of fatigue and nerves? Do you think both of those two things affected you?
JELENA JANKOVIC: From her or for me?

Q. Both of you, actually. Quite a few.
JELENA JANKOVIC: Yeah, but it's not easy, especially for me being sick and then playing for two hours against one of the strongest players in the world. It's not easy. Of course my concentration will go down, at some point.
I cannot keep it up the whole match, but I tried to fight somehow and tried to come back, and I think she started making a lot of errors because she had trouble closing it out.
She just ­­ I thought that she was so nervous. The balls that she was making mistakes ­­ in the first set she would just smack winners all over the place. And then in the third set when she had to do it, when she had to make it, she had trouble doing that.
I played some great points at 5­1 and 5­2. I hit great shots, but ­­ and then I was against the wind at 5­3 and it was just hard. I thought, you know what? If somehow I can pull that game out and then be 5­4 and then I'm over there with the wind, it would make a big difference.
But, unfortunately, she was hitting really hard and gave it all, and I was just in the back and couldn't get those balls back.

Q. What does it feel like when Serena, when she's coming and she's going to do one of those overheads and she starts growling?
JELENA JANKOVIC: Oh, my God. (laughter.)
It feels like, I would say, Oh, my God. Just hit a winner, but away from me. I don't want to see that ball near my body or anywhere else. It's just ­­ and after, when she, you know ­­ okay, she hits a winner, but then she screams so loud. She says, Come on.
It's just ­­ it's like the whole image, you know. I try not to look at her. I just try to focus on myself.

Q. On the women's tour is there anyone like her? Is she really unique in that way with just the power and the aura?
JELENA JANKOVIC: Just amazing power. It's ­­ and I felt, you know how I felt, to be honest, it's like heavyweight champion and I'm a feather champion, you know? That's how I felt. I cannot match up against her. Just too much power for me to handle, especially on a good day where she's playing well.
It's amazing. I need to ­­ I need to improve some of the things, but I will never be like that.

Q. But Jelena, you do handle some of her heavy balls very well, and I'll ask the opposite questions.
JELENA JANKOVIC: I try my best. When I'm killing myself out there to return those balls, I'm having ­­ it's easy for me to do that.

Q. What does it feel like though when you do return one well? Does it feel like you're swatting concrete or a missile? What does it feel like?
JELENA JANKOVIC: Really, especially her serves, when those ­­ when she makes those serves, it's really ­­ I mean, if she has a good percentage there's nothing I can do. Even though I may be ­­ I can read the side and I go and I anticipate very well and I get the ball, but I get it in the service box. It's hard.
That's just the way it is, and I ­­ I won against her like three times before, and now it's 3­All. I had to be nice, you know. I beat her in Australia, so I had to be nice and let her defend her title. (laughter.) I'll be waiting for her in one of the clay tournaments when we play in Europe and I'll have more fans.

Q. What were the pills that you were taking during that changeover?
JELENA JANKOVIC: Sorry?

Q. You took a couple of pills.
JELENA JANKOVIC: Yeah, just Tylenol and Claritin and some cold ­­ I don't know what they are. It's for the cold, just to stop ­­ because I keep coughing and it's annoying, really. So to stop that and to stop my nose from running.

Q. She screamed a little, but didn't you feel that she was overall much calmer than she usually is?
JELENA JANKOVIC: I don't know how she normally is, because...

Q. She's usually screaming all the time.
JELENA JANKOVIC: (laughter.) Oh, my God. I'm glad she was calmer and she didn't scream too much. I don't know what I can say about that. It's not mine to ­­ you can ask her, Serena, why didn't you scream as much as you normally do? What was the reason for that?

Q. A couple of weeks ago in Dubai you said a couple of things. One, that you're not really fit enough to go beyond the two­hour mark. Well, it went 2 hours 25 today, and in those 25 minutes you caused her a lot of problems. The other thing was that you really need a full­time traveling coach with you to bring out your best. Is there any update on either of those things?
JELENA JANKOVIC: Yeah. First of all, I feel like I'm making improvement on the physical part, because I've been working with a fitness trainer in Indian Wells and here throughout these two tournaments. I already feel that I'm making some progress, but it takes time, of course.
But I already feel a lot better than I felt in Dubai where I played a third­setter and I couldn't even move. I was too tired, too exhausted. I was completely out of shape. And now I'm coming back, I'm getting better and better, but it will take, you know, more time, of course.
But as for the coach, hopefully, you know, I was getting some help here in beginning of the tournament and as well in Indian Wells. Makes a huge difference, because I'm No. 3 player in the world without a coach, and I can just imagine what will happen to me if I have a full­time coach that will be there for me all the time and share his knowledge and experience with me.

Q. Has the person who's been helping you with that become the full­time coach?
JELENA JANKOVIC: I hope so. You know, I don't want to say anything yet, but he was helping me here in Miami and in Indian Wells, and it's just amazing. My results are coming even if for couple of days of working, so it's great.

Q. And who was that?
JELENA JANKOVIC: I'm not saying anything until it's official. I don't want to bring bad luck or anything, you know, until it's definite, and then I can say.

Q. You said at the end, you know, that you really had never seen her that nervous or whatever at the end and smashing the racquet, so upset.
JELENA JANKOVIC: That was scary, to be honest. Really. Really, I told her after the match, You really smashed that racquet to pieces. She's like, I had to.

Q. But did you feel at that point that maybe she was vulnerable and you maybe had a chance there?
JELENA JANKOVIC: Of course. I was really ­­ I thought that I'm going to come back at 5­3. I was ­­ you know, I just said to myself, If only I can make one more game, 5­4, and go out on the other side and play with the wind and she's against the wind. It's so much tougher. She hits so hard.
But then I can still manage to play aggressive and dictate those points from that side, but I didn't do it. So it was unfortunate, but I believe that I could have ­­ I could come back.

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