x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Jelena Jankovic aims for 'home' victory in Dubai Tennis Championships

The Serb, who lives in the emirate, has gone close to winning the tournament on several occasions.

Jelena Jankovic in action at the Qatar Open last week.
Jelena Jankovic in action at the Qatar Open last week.

DUBAI // Add the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships to the list of titles Jelena Jankovic would dearly like to win.

The former world No 1 lives in Dubai and considers the city's WTA tournament to be her "home" event. But despite several close calls, she has never won it.

Jankovic, 26, reached the final of the tournament on her debut, in 2005 before losing to Lindsay Davenport. She has made three semi-finals since, but hopes to repeat her success of 2005, and possibly improve on it, when the tournament starts tomorrow.

"I have a lot of support and a lot of friends here," Jankovic said. "I really appreciate that and I think it helps me a lot when I am playing.

"I played the finals here when I was 18 or 19. Last year, I played the semis and in a few other years as well, but I would like to reach the final again. That would be nice and I will try my best.

"It's a tough field and there are so many great players in the draw, and it will be tough competition."

The draw for the tournament was held yesterday and Jankovic is in the bottom half, which includes the second seed Petra Kvitova, the fourth seed Samantha Stosur and the fifth seed Agnieszka Radwanska. Seeded eighth, the 12-time WTA Tour winner will start her campaign against Petra Cetkovska.

"There are some great players in the draw and every match is tough," Jankovic said. "Like always, I will just give my best, try to play my best tennis from the first point.

"My goal for this year will be to get back into the top five. I had a lot of injuries, so it's been hard. I am really trying my best to come back.

"I have been consistently in the top 10 for five years and last year was the first time I finished No 14. Now I am No 13 in the world, but I would like to come back and be one of those top players and be really successful again.

"So we will see. It takes a lot of hard work and effort. It doesn't really fall from the sky."

Jankovic finished 2008 as the No 1 player in the world, but she has yet to win a grand slam. Her best performance in the big four is the loss to Serena Williams in the final of the 2008 US Open.

Winning one of those grand slams, then should be at the top of Jankovic's wish list, but yesterday she said she dreams of standing at the top of the podium at an Olympic Games, with a gold medal hanging around her neck.

"I really love the US Open, as well, and it would be really nice to win just one of those big events and add to the collection of my other trophies," Jankovic said.

"But an Olympic medal would be very special. To wear it around my neck, shining, that would be special. That is my goal and my dream. So we will see if it happens."

Jankovic will get a chance to realise her dreams in London later this year. For the moment, she is focusing her energies on performing well at the Aviation Club.

arizvi@thenational.ae