FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – It almost didn’t happen this year for Jelena Jankovic. The 23 year-old actually contemplated giving up tennis temporary and going back to school.
She seemed to have made the right choice.
Coming back in both sets against fifth seeded Elena Dementieva, 6-4, 6-4, the Serbian was able to advance to her first finals in her short career.
“The match is not over until it’s over, said Jankovic, who will face Serena Williams tomorrow night, weather permitting. “Until the end you are out there competing. You’re playing every point. So until it’s finished, you never know what’s going to happen.”
Well it did happen for her and Jankovic will now try to finish off a great US Open. Part of the reason she was so successful this year is health. A rash of injuries slowed her for most of the season, but not she feels like she is at the top of her game.
“It really takes off ‑‑ it really took me ‑‑ you know, I wasn’t thinking about, you know, tennis,” she said. “I was thinking, ‘Oh, my God, this is hurting. This is bothering me.’ So I was really struggling and really not playing my tennis and not thinking about my game. And now, first time, you know, this year, Grand Slam, I’m healthy and, you know, I really want to do well. I’m really focused, I really believe in myself, and I’m really going one match at a time.
“I’m really trying my best out there, and so I’m motivated. So I’m happy to be in the final for the first time.”
Her on the court play is showing it too. Although Dementieva went up 4-2 in the first set, Jankovic was able to come back and win and she was down in the second as well, but was able to ice it by serving at a 75 percent rate on the first try, having only one double fault and only 22 unforced errors.
Dementieva, on the other hand shot a 63 percent first serve with six double faults and 42 unforced errors.
Part of the reason she says she was so successful was because the injuries made her mentally tough, which forced her to step it up a notch.
“Mentally, I feel I’m a lot stronger, because I really believe in myself,” she said. “I really want to do this, and, you know, I think it’s about time for me to make that step forward to break that barrier and go a long way.
“I want to win a Grand Slam, and this is why I came here. Not having injuries, not having some problems, is giving me a good opportunity to be here, so I’m really thankful for that.”
And she may be thankful her opponent is Williams, who beat Dinara Safina in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2. The fourth seeded Williams will have a fight on her hands with Jankovic as the two will face off tomorrow night. The winner of the finals will be then ranked No. 1 in the world.
One other battle will be the weather. Hurricane Hanna is coming up the coast, which may wash out tomorrow’s events. If that happens, then Sunday the Men’s Semifinals will start at 1 p.m. with third seeded Novak Djokovic taking on second seeded Roger Federer. That will be followed by top seed Rafael Nadal trying to continue his fine play against sixth ranked Andy Murray.
The women will follow at 9 p.m. on Sunday and the Men’s Finals will be Monday at 5 p.m.