Jelena Jankovic US Open Interview - September 5

Posted on September 6, 2007

September 5, 2007

Jelena Jankovic


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How much fun was that for you?
JELENA JANKOVIC: It's not funny anymore.

Q. While you were on court.
JELENA JANKOVIC: No, it was a lot of fun playing a night match, in front of such a crowd like here in New York that we have. It's amazing. It's a special feeling to be out there. I really had a lot of fun.
Unfortunately I lost at the end. Very disappointing. But one has to lose.

Q. It would be wonderful if more athletes demonstrated the graciousness and sportsmanship that you do. You were up 6-5. Venus served 116-mile-an-hour ace. Even you smiled in appreciation. Where does that sportsmanship come from?
JELENA JANKOVIC: I really don't know. I think it's nice to be fair, to give credit to the opponent. When she hits a great shot, why not? You can say, Well done. Nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with smiling also on the court.
I cannot do anything when she hits an unbelievable serve. I cannot return it. So why not give her credit and say, Well done, Venus.
But I was fighting there. I tried to do my best. I tried to win. I had a positive score against her. But today, tonight, it didn't go my way. A few points in the tiebreaker I made some unforced errors.
But you have to take the loss and have to go on and have to learn from it and keep going.

Q. You've played 82 matches this year, just about double what Venus played. You also played a couple of three-setters here. Do you think ultimately that did catch up to you?
JELENA JANKOVIC: Yeah, I think overall at the US Open I haven't been playing my best tennis. I was struggling, especially in the first couple of rounds, didn't really play my game.
But today I came into the match knowing that I have to play well in order to be there with Venus, because if I play like I did with my earlier rounds I will be out of -- I would leave the court very soon.
But I was hanging in there. I didn't play my best. My balls were very short. My serve was not working at all. But even with these kind of shots that I had tonight, I was fighting and I tried to do the best that I could.
But a few points here and there decided the winner. I was the loser tonight, so I have to accept it and move on.

Q. You gave her a challenge tonight.
JELENA JANKOVIC: I heard before the match, I had two days off. I was listening to the commentators. I was so sure that Venus was the favorite. They kept going, Venus will play Justine. Venus will do this. They already put me out, and I'd beaten her the last three times.
They were so sure she was gonna do it. I was a few points away from winning. I had the breakpoint at 4-3 to go up 5-3 in the third and didn't take that.
But this is the game.

Q. What are the positives you can take out of the tournament and the match?
JELENA JANKOVIC: I don't know. This is the last Grand Slam. With the way I played, you know, the whole tournament, it's good for me that I even got the quarterfinals because I haven't been at my best and I'm a little bit tired.
My game has a little bit gone down. It's not where it used to be, especially in the beginning of the year, because maybe I played a lot of matches and my body's getting tired.
But it's almost becoming at the end of the year. Two more months, then the Masters, the Sony Ericsson Championship, then the year is over. I have to give my effort and finish the year strong and do the best that I can.

Q. Do you feel like you lost to the best player in the tournament?
JELENA JANKOVIC: I don't know. But I think it was unfortunate that the upper draw was very, very strong and we had to play each other. Venus, Serena, Justine, we were all up in the draw.
Whoever wins from that top will win the whole tournament, from my opinion. Unfortunately, we were all stuck in that side. It was a very open draw in the bottom. So this is how it is. This is the luck.
It happened actually in the last three Grand Slams. It has been kind of similar that Serena played Justine in the quarters and then I would play in the semis Justine. It's like they copy the draws (smiling).
But you have to accept it, and I think it will be a great semifinal. Venus and Justine will be a great match, and I think one of them will win the whole tournament.

Q. What did you say to Jerry Seinfeld?
JELENA JANKOVIC: I don't know. I was like surprised. It's always great to see so many famous people to come and watch the matches. It's really exciting.

Q. Did you make a joke with him?
JELENA JANKOVIC: No, why I make a joke? I just saw him on the screen. I was like, Whoa, all these people coming to watch. It's great.

Q. When you had to listen to the commentators count you out of things, did you feel it was just disrespect?

Q. You talked about the commentators the last few days kept saying Venus would win.
JELENA JANKOVIC: No, no, no, but they were quite sure that she will win. When you hear something like that, you know, of course she's American and of course they're going to say the best things.
If I was playing in Serbia of course I would be the favorite over there, and I understand that. But after beating somebody three times, they were so sure that, you know, she will win, she will do. Maybe they were right. Now they can say they're right (laughter).

Q. Did it make you angry? Did you laugh at it?
JELENA JANKOVIC: No, I don't really care. But I just heard it. I was watching the TV. But this is how it is. And then you cannot be always satisfied with what people say. You cannot really get involved and really distract yourself by the thoughts of the other people.
You know your value, you know what you have to do. You have to believe in yourself.

Q. You beat her 7-6 in the third in Charleston. What was your approach going into the third-set tiebreak tonight?
JELENA JANKOVIC: I felt that I was tired, especially those games when it was 5-All, 6-5. There were some long points out there. You know, I thought that I was going to do it at 6-5. It was deuce. But she came up with great serves and I couldn't do anything.
I mean, she didn't give me a chance. When she hits an ace or I barely touch the ball, bring it very short, that was tough.
In the tiebreaker we had some long points, and I was the one making the errors. I maybe was a little bit excited. I thought that it will go in, but it didn't. I was going and playing and playing, and I believed I could come back at the end because I felt that she was getting very tight.
Her serve, she barely passed it over the net when it was 6-4. I thought maybe if I can make that point maybe I can turn the things around for me.
But she played a great point and the match was over. But was very, very tough for me to be on court. I barely gave a speech, you know, when the commentator came outside and he made me speak. My voice was almost shaking out there.
But it was nice to talk to the fans. You know, I appreciate all the support. It was a special feeling to be there.

Q. You had a very vocal group of supporters at the top of the stadium. We were calling them the J.J. Block in your honor.
JELENA JANKOVIC: The J.J. Block, like James Blake (laughter).

Q. Do you consider yourself a player who thrives on that?
JELENA JANKOVIC: I love when they have a lot of supporters. They were asking, What am I talking to the crowd? They go like, Jelena, we love your smile. I'm like, But, yeah, it doesn't help me return her serve (laughter). It's always funny. It's quite entertaining.
I think you have to have fun sometimes on the court. I don't think you have to always be so serious like some of the players are. You have to enjoy it. So this is what I'm doing, having a lot of fun on the court.
It's disappointing when you lose a match, but this is a game when one has to -- you cannot both come out of the court as winners. I was the one tonight. I have to move on and be positive and work very hard. I'm very young and my time will come.

Q. Last year you told us besides your tennis you still pursue your studies. Now the season is ending, are you still...
JELENA JANKOVIC: Yeah, I brought my books with me. It was very important for me to concentrate on this tournament because it's the last Grand Slam of the year.
But I think it's like 10 kilos of books. Now I lost and I will have a lot of time to prepare my exams. And when I will go back to Serbia I'll make an appointment when I'm ready to catch up and do some of the work.
It's very important for me to have the education besides being a professional athlete and being at the top of the game. It's very important for me to finish.

Q. Do you have a gut feeling on Justine or Venus?
JELENA JANKOVIC: I really don't know. But I think Venus has a good score against Justine, right? Because I saw yesterday or somewhere, I saw the score Justine versus me, 7-0. Venus against Justine 7-1 for Venus, so it's just the opposite. So I think Venus has a great chance.
But it depends on that certain day who would perform better because they're both great players and great champions. Just who will serve better, who will play the important points better, who will come out strong on that certain day, because you cannot pick. You never know.

Q. You had a few tremendous sliding splits. Do you ever hurt yourself doing that?
JELENA JANKOVIC: No, I didn't hurt myself yet. I want to stop doing that because it's very dangerous and it's not a good thing to do it, especially when you're playing a long match and your muscles are very tight and very stiff.
So when you do that your muscle can maybe overstretch and you can pop or something. It's very dangerous.
But I don't know why I'm doing that, and it's not on purpose. It's just my lousy movement or whatever I'm doing on court (laughter). I was watching also on the screen. I'm saying, What kind of... I don't know where does this come from? I really don't know.
But like Clijsters, she also did that and I'm doing that. I don't know why, but I would like to stop.

Q. You often look at the screen. Does it help you?
JELENA JANKOVIC: I look at the screen. I don't know why. It doesn't distract me. It's the same. I play the game. I watch the ball. Between the points, you look what I did over there, what kind of great shot she hit. But I'm ready for the next point.

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