x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

No better time to be Serbia's tennis fan

Wearing Serbia's scarlet football shirts and wrapped in red-white-and-blue national flags, the throng of patriots in the public seats chanted throughout Jelena Jankovic's 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 quarter-final victory over Australia's Samantha Stosur.

DUBAI // Has there ever been a better time to be a Serbian tennis fan?

Ivan Andrejic and his contingent of colourful compatriots certainly do not think so.

Wearing Serbia's scarlet football shirts and wrapped in red-white-and-blue national flags, the throng of patriots in the public seats chanted throughout Jelena Jankovic's 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 quarter-final victory over Australia's Samantha Stosur.

"Ajde" - pronounced "aye-day" - came the yell from the four musketeers at the front of the group as they championed the 2005 Dubai finalist through close to three hours of tough, testing tennis.

"It means 'let's go'," said Andrejic. Serbia has had a lot to cheer about of late. The country's dramatic Davis Cup defeat of France in December was complemented by Novak Djokovic's men's singles triumph in the Australian Open.

As some of the Serbian spectators headed out to next watch their country take part in a basketball tournament elsewhere in the city, Andrejic hung around

"It's a really amazing time to follow tennis if you are Serbian: so many titles now. You can see what it has done to my voice," he said with a voice so raspy that the last thing he required was the cigarette he proceeded to suck on.

"We are such a small country, but we keep producing fantastic stars. Long may it continue."

Jankovic, who turns 26 later this month, was forced to fight back from four games down to turn the tables on Stosur and win the tie-breaker 7-4. Undoubtedly, she was motivated by the chants of "Zeerbia" and "Yell-ayna".

"The crowd always support me when I am down," she said. "I hope to see them again tomorrow."

Jankovic meets Caroline Wozniacki in this evening's semi-final.