Serbian players larger than life in Paris

Wilson Blade 9

A small country without a national tennis centre has three players in the top 10 – that’s Serbia! Amazing! And not only that — Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic reached the semis of Roland Garros, as well as their male compatriot Novak Djokovic.

“Wherever you go, it’s just Serbians all over the place, winning all these matches,” said Jankovic, laughing. “It’s just incredible. I’m just proud of that and just, hopefully, we can keep going.”

Here’s what one Serbian newspaper wrote in its daily Roland Garros report: “What seemed like a distant dream a year ago is becoming reality — Serbia is taking over the world’s tennis scene.”

Jankovic and Ivanovic have made a fantastic progress. A year ago, they were ranked No. 32 and No. 21. Today, they are No. 5 and No. 7, respectively. It will be the first Grand Slam singles semifinal for Ivanovic and only the second for Jankovic, who reached the U.S. Open semis last year, only to lose to Henin — her opponent on Thursday.

However, we will be watching an historic all-Serbian French Open final only if Jelena and Ana defeat the number one and two seeds.

Fourth-seeded Jankovic plays top-seeded Justine Henin in the semifinal. Although the Serb lost all five of their previous meetings, it was never easy for the Belgian since she always gained victory in three sets. We also have to point out that Jankovic is definitely in good form, winning three titles in 2007 – Auckland, Charleston, and Rome. Actually, if we were looking only at the points earned this year, Jankovic would have been ranked No. 1.

About her match with Justine the world No. 5 said: “I think I can do it. It’s a matter of staying concentrated and being mentally tough.”

Henin, who is looking to become the first woman since Monica Seles in 1992 to win three straight French Open titles, is wary of her much-improved opponent.

“She doesn’t make a lot of errors. She has a lot of pace, and she fights a lot,” said the 25-year-old Belgian.

“I would say that if I’m able to get my game together, in all likelihood, I might win, but it will be a tricky match.”

Ivanovic’s opponent on Thursday will be Maria Sharapova. Both of them will play their first Roland Garros semi-final.

Sharapova, despite admitting that she struggles on clay, wouldn’t be surprised if she won this year’s French Open.

“Others might be surprised because I didn’t play a lot on clay when I was younger.

“It also doesn’t surprise me that I’m in the semi-finals. I am proud to have made it. In every tournament I play, I always believe in myself whether it’s clay or mud. I know what I’m capable of.” (sources: BBC Sport, Reuters, ESPN)


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