Former world number one Jelena Jankovic suffered a 6-1 6-3 first-round loss to Mona Barthel at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and the impression is that retirement is not a distant future for the veteran.
At her previous tournament, the Qatar Total Open in Doha, the world No.50 Jankovic had to go through qualifying for the first time since 2004 and after winning three qualifying matches, she fell at the first hurdle in the main draw, losing to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1 6-4.
Facing the disappointing truth that qualifying matches and early exists are now her reality, Jankovic hinted that retirement is possible, but only if defeats turn out to be persistent. If she manages to take an upward spiral, she’ll continue to compete, although the early Dubai exit is yet another discouragement in the season in which she’s suffered four first-round losses at five tournaments she’s played.
In a recent interview, Jelena explained her current situation and plans for the future:
If I manage to get back to the top and play as I should, I will continue to compete, but if I have to go through qualifying at every tournament, it will be a bit hard at the age of 32. This sport has made me tired. Tennis is strenuous, but it has given me so much. I am grateful for everything and I want to play some more time to test my possibilities.
Despite the underprivileged current status, JJ considered the Doha qualifying, her first in 13 years, a good drill to get more matches under her feet.
The qualifying is welcome in a way, because I need a continuity of matches, to get my form and self-confidence back.