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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Jankovic blames defeat on dizzy spell

Photo Titled Jankovic battle
Jelena Jankovic during her hard fought match with Melanie Oudin.
At the start of the 2009 season, Serbia's Jelena Jankovic stood at the summit of women's tennis. Never mind that Serena Williams, who she had replaced as world number one in October 2008, had pointed out rather tartly that Jankovic had still to win a Grand Slam title.

Since then, the 24-year-old from Belgrade, who makes her home in Bradenton, Florida, has slipped from that summit to sixth in the rankings and at Wimbledon today that slip turned into a tumble when she was knocked out in the third round by a 17-year-old American qualifier, Melanie Oudin.

Today's humiliation is the low point of a depressing season, but Jankovic, who received lengthy on-court treatment after winning the first set on the tiebreak, put it down to what she called "some woman problems", adding: "It's not easy being a woman sometimes."

She explained that after the first set she started to feel dizzy. "I thought I was gonna end up in hospital," she said. “I started to shake, I was losing consciousness. I was like a ghost, white in the face, I didn't know where I was. It was a really strange feeling and I started to cry."

Afterwards, she claimed, she lacked the energy to go after her opponent's shots. "No power. I wasn't the same player."

Three years ago this very weekend at the 2006 Championships marked the turn-around point of Jankovic's career. Having lost 10 successive matches earlier in the year and contemplated giving up tennis, she defeated the reigning champion Venus Williams in the third round. She ended that year 12th best in the women's game and 12 months later was ranked third.

Last August, Jankovic became the 18th player in the history of the women's tour to ascend to number one. She was displaced a week later by her compatriot, Ana Ivanovic, who then ceded the position to Serena Williams until the first week of October, when Jankovic took over for the rest of the year.

Jankovic has not been in that form for much of this year. "My goal was to start 2009 even better than 2008, to be fitter, to be stronger, to bring my tennis game to the next level,” she said. “But I started the year in a very bad way, I felt so slow.

"I added some muscle, maybe seven kilos more than I have now, and it didn't really give me results. I didn't feel comfortable on the court. When you don't move well you don't have the balance to hit the ball, it's difficult to stay in the game, which has become much, much stronger than before
"So then the confidence goes down a little bit as well. I also had some personal problems. When you add all these things together, it doesn't give good results. But I'm just trying to stay positive, trying to get back to the position where I can play good tennis and compete and have fun out there."

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