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September 5, 2008

Jelena Jankovic


J. JANKOVIC/E. Dementieva
6-4, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What were you going to get a degree in when you almost made a mistake by going back to university?
JELENA JANKOVIC: I don't know. I'm not really thinking about that at the moment, you know.
I didn't actually know what I wanted to study in the beginning. I'm only in the second year, and in the third year I would really choose what I want to study. But now I am focused on tennis. Little by little.

Q. Of course you are. What do you think it would have been?
JELENA JANKOVIC: I don't know. Off the court, I really love acting.

Q. You're pretty good at that.
JELENA JANKOVIC: Sure. I don't know. (laughter.)
I don't know. We'll see.

Q. In all your tries to get past the semifinal, what was the difference today?
JELENA JANKOVIC: You know, actually, to be honest, this has been the first set Grand Slam that I don't have any injuries, that I don't have any issues bothering me.
It really takes off -- it really took me -- you know, I wasn't thinking about, you know, tennis. I was thinking, Oh, my God, this is hurting. This is bothering me. So I was really struggling and really not playing my tennis and not thinking about my game.
And now, first time, you know, this year, Grand Slam, I'm healthy and, you know, I really want to do well. I'm really focused, I really believe in myself, and I'm really going one match at a time.
I'm really trying my best out there, and so I'm motivated. So I'm happy to be in the final for the first time.

Q. That was a battle of mental strength today and you won it.
JELENA JANKOVIC: Yeah, mentally, I feel I'm a lot stronger, because I really believe in myself. I really want to do this, and, you know, I think it's about time for me to make that step forward to break that barrier and go a long way.
I want to win a Grand Slam, and this is why I came here. Not having injuries, not having some problems, is giving me a good opportunity to be here, so I'm really thankful for that.

Q. In a strange way, have your physical problems helped you build mental strength in the sense that you know that you can battle through that so you could also battle through...
JELENA JANKOVIC: No, but throughout the year I had all these different kinds of injuries, because due to -- I didn't prepare well enough in the beginning of the year. Actually, in the preseason I didn't prepare.
So I started with a lot of injuries. It was like a chain, going from one injury to another. I had some kind of bacteria for like three or four months where I was blowing my nose the whole time and I couldn't breathe and all these problems.
So of course when you're having some things like that it's tough to be at the top of your level and really play your tennis. You're really struggling with many things.
And now, you know, to knock on wood, you know, it's a miracle, for me to be here and to be healthy and to enjoy my tennis.
As you could see, I'm really fighting out there. I'm really never giving up. I'm really there until the last point. No matter what, I'm going to really, until I -- until the last point I'm going to be there and I'm going to try my best.
This is what has helped me propel through this tournament and helped me until now to come into the final.

Q. Can you take us through the injuries from the very beginning?
JELENA JANKOVIC: It's a long story. It's going to be a long story.

Q. Abbreviated version.
JELENA JANKOVIC: Oh, my God. Actually, it all started in exhibition in Hopman Cup. I injured my glut muscle. I don't know how you call that.

Q. Back side.
JELENA JANKOVIC: Yeah, in the back. Yeah.
Then I had a back pain in Australian Open. Then I had -- I don't know what I played afterwards. Then I got sick in Indian Wells really bad and was sick for three or four months. I had some bacteria that they couldn't -- they didn't know how to get rid of it, and so my nose was running the whole time. It was really bad in my throat and it was hard for me to breathe.
Then French Open I had problem with my arm, you know. My arm was like swollen, and since the second round of the tournament I was struggling.
In Wimbledon, I made some movement and I had a tear in my meniscus where they told me I went to have surgery and I'm not going to play for a while. I recovered in three weeks, but it really took me a long time, you know, to come back.
It was amazing how my knee got weaker. Through Olympics and LA and Montreal I was really out of shape. I couldn't move. I was not fast enough. I was just -- it was hard for me.
And then finally now I'm really working hard, you know, with my coach, with my fitness coach, really, you know, taking care of every little detail. Even the food I'm eating, I'm really taking care of everything, because all these little things are going to make a big difference, especially for me.
So these things are starting to pay off, and I'm really being disciplined in the moment. I'm really listening to everything. I'm really eager, you know. I'm really motivated to do the right things and to win a Grand Slam.
I'm really happy to be in the final, and tomorrow is another day. Hopefully I can give my best in the last match with her.

Q. I'm sure you heard about the possibility of a lot of rain tomorrow. Would you rather have the extra day if you push it back to Sunday?
JELENA JANKOVIC: For me it doesn't matter. Just whenever I play, I'm going to play. I'm going to be there. I'm going to try my best, and that's all I care about, even if it's tomorrow or next day or in a week. I'm going to go out there and compete.

Q. If you play Serena Williams, how does your history against her where you've split six matches, you've split the two matches this year, all the...
JELENA JANKOVIC: This year we are 1-1. I beat her at the Australian Open; she beat me in Miami in three sets. So it will be a tough match. She's a powerful player. She loves to play here at the Open, but so do I. I love being here. I love the atmosphere.
It's going to be an interesting match if she wins, but I don't know what is happening now with Safina. She's also in great form and doing really well the last couple of months. So whoever it will be, it will be a difficult opponent.
But I will go out there and do my best.

Q. What has been the difference when you've played Serena since you've split those matches? What has been the key when you've played against her?
JELENA JANKOVIC: What do you mean? When I have won?

Q. When you've won or when you've lost, what's been the difference?
JELENA JANKOVIC: Overall, she's, I think, the strongest player on the tour, together with her sister. Nobody has the power that they have.
We cannot compare. At least I cannot compare to any of them, you know, with their strength. They're great athletes, really. I'm a little athlete. They move really well. They hit the ball so hard.
So if you want to really win when they're in form, you really have to be on the top of your level and you really have to go for every shot and really have to run a lot.
So it will be difficult, but it's doable.

Q. Having spent so much time at Nick's, do you regard the United States as sort of a second country?
JELENA JANKOVIC: Yeah, I have a house here in America, and I love spending time here. You know, when the tournaments are in America I'm here, and when the tournaments are in Europe I go back home to Serbia. So it's like a second home.

Q. When Novak struggles with hostile crowds, and of course he had an issue with that last night, how important is it for you to be loved out there on court?
JELENA JANKOVIC: I don't know how important it is to be loved, but I'm being myself. You know, I say everything that I feel to say, and, you know, it comes out naturally.
So, you know, different players, you know, they have different personalities. People may like them; some people may not like them. Of course when you play a crowd favorite, when you play an American here at the Open, the majority of people will be against you, which is normal, which is understandable.
Because if I played in Serbia, of course, the crowd would be on my side. So when you play, for example like Djokovic played against Roddick, it was, you know, very -- you could understand that, you know, 90% of the crowd was for Roddick.
But, you know, then with the issue between them, you know, with the injuries and the things they had, you know, I cannot comment on that because it's not my thing.
I try to -- I can say what I do. I don't like to comment on other people's, you know, comments or whatever they had.

Q. Did you see the on-court interview?
JELENA JANKOVIC: I did, and I saw that -- you know, it was -- they booed him. They didn't really appreciate what he said.
But, you know, from my opinion, he just defended himself, because, you know, when Roddick said that he was -- you know, he took all these timeouts and all these injuries -- you know, in a way I didn't think it was nice to say all of these things, even though maybe he had injuries.
Whatever he had, I don't think it's nice to say, because you don't know for a fact what this guy has, what kind of issues. But at the end of the day, from my opinion, most important this is to win. This is what counts, and this is the one who goes forward.
The one who went into the semifinal was Djokovic. All these things that he has done or didn't do, that doesn't matter. It's the winner that counts.

Q. What were those guys in the balcony shouting? They were for you. I mean, it was sort of like a cheering squad.
JELENA JANKOVIC: Oh, the one from upstairs?

Q. Yeah, upstairs.
JELENA JANKOVIC: They kept saying, Jelena, we love you, and all these things, cheering, you know, in kind of a -- I don't know, like a poem, you know, rhyming.

Q. When she pushed at you today, you responded well, no nerves. You played offense when you had to. Defense, you got past this stage. Grand Slam final you've never experienced, so just talk about how you think you're going to hold up.
JELENA JANKOVIC: Yeah, it will be just like another match. I didn't make -- for me, at least, doesn't make a difference, semifinal or final.
I want to go out there the same like I've been doing the last, you know, couple of matches. I want to go out there and really, from the first point, be there and really be focused.
You know, come out with a game plan and know what I have to do to win and just fight. You know, I have to believe in myself. I know that I can do it, and that is what matters.

Q. If you play Serena, the winner will be No. 1 in the world as far as I understand. If you play Safina, even if you lose, you are going to be No. 1 in the world. Does it make a difference? And also, you lost to Safina three times out of four, and you are even with Serena.
JELENA JANKOVIC: I lost to her the last two times.

Q. Yes.
JELENA JANKOVIC: I didn't lose last three.

Q. Three out of four. Three out of five.
JELENA JANKOVIC: Since when? Since when I've lost to her so many times? I don't...

Q. Anyway, doesn't matter. Not so important. Would you prefer to play to Serena because you're on even...
JELENA JANKOVIC: I don't know. It doesn't matter, because I'm improving. I lost to Safina when I was just coming back from an injury. I was really -- if you could watch the matches that I played in Olympics or Montreal, it was really hard for me, you know, to move, to go from one side to another.
I had no reaction. I had no -- I was really, my game was kind of falling apart. I was really struggling. When you're not, you know, there, it's -- and I lost in three sets in those circumstances.
Now that I feel much stronger, I'm still, you know, very, very far from my limit for my full potential, but I feel that I'm getting better. I feel that I'm moving faster. I feel I'm a little bit stronger. I feel I can hold my ground.
When I played against Safina, for example in the Olympics, every time she hit hard I was falling back. I couldn't stand my ground. She was overpowering me.
And now I feel that, you know, I can stand there, and I can, you know, hit back to back with whoever it is on the other side. So that is something that is giving me a lot more confidence and a lot more belief when I go into my next match.
So I hope that, you know, I can do and give really 100%, and hopefully I can do it. I don't know. We'll see.

Q. When you were at Bollettieri's, you were a little kid.
JELENA JANKOVIC: I'm still a little kid. (laughter.)

Q. Okay, kid.
JELENA JANKOVIC: For you. (laughter.) I didn't say anything in a bad way.

Q. When you're having those battles on the back locals with Sharapova and all those people, did you ever think, I can't do this. It's just too tough.
JELENA JANKOVIC: Tennis, you mean?

Q. Yeah, yeah.
JELENA JANKOVIC: I don't know. Tennis, in the beginning I never really took it too seriously. Tennis was, for me, I really loved the sport, I really loved to play and compete, but as a young girl I never knew that I was going to make it.
I never knew that, you know, this is something I really want to do, that I'm going to become a professional. Because how many people, especially coming from Serbia, we didn't have a tradition in tennis.
Not many people -- nobody made it from that country, so I didn't have anybody to look up to. I didn't know, you know, how far I can go, what is my potential, what is my limit and all this.
People were telling me I'm talented, you know, I'm going to about be this and that, but you never know. So in the beginning, for me it was most important to go to school but then, you know, to play tennis.
Then when I became No. 1 junior in the world and won Australian Open juniors, that's when I started thinking I'm going professional and really maybe trying my best. When I finished high school I started to train a little bit more, and that's when I wanted to make that transition into the professional level. You know, here I am. I came a long way.

Q. You just said you were just a little kid, and obviously you love still to joke and have fun. So many players on the circuit start as teenagers. They're happy, they're bubbly, but slowly they get more serious.
JELENA JANKOVIC: That's not the case with me.

Q. How important is it for you for you to have...
JELENA JANKOVIC: It's important to be yourself and to really have fun out there. Our life is not easy, and traveling everywhere, traveling around the world, and really being away from your country, being away from the family, from the people you love and from your friends, it's hard, you know, sometimes, to take everything.
If you don't enjoy yourself, you don't enjoy competing, you know, of course, we have a lot of pressure, we go out there, we really try our best, we really compete at our hardest. But when we step off the court, we're real people and we're human beings. We try to -- at least I try to enjoy myself. I try to laugh. I try to have a good time.
I'm young, so why not? When am I going to have fun? When I'm -- now is the time. For example, the driver, when he was driving me back home he told me, You know, you made my day. You laugh a lot. All these players, you know, they complain about traffic all the time.
And I said, you know, I don't complain about traffic. All I want is to get home. I'm really tired. We started making some jokes. He said, Thank you for making my day. You really lighten up, you know, even this car.
And I said, You know, I don't know what it is. I'm just laughing. I have a good time. And he said, Is this because you're No. 1 or No. 2 in the world?
And I said, No, I was laughing when I was 1,000 in the world, but maybe a little bit more now that I'm No. 1 or No. 2.

Q. Do you think it's too bad that Novak has stopped pretty much doing these imitations which brought so much fun to so many people?
JELENA JANKOVIC: I don't know. That's his thing to do, you know. He loves imitating. I don't know why he stopped it. Maybe some of the players were complaining they didn't like, you know, his imitations. They didn't like him, you know, maybe making fun of some other people.
In his own individual way, in a positive way, you know, it's not -- when you're imitating something it's just for fun. I don't think people could get offended by that. But, you know, that's his thing. I can ask him, you know, to keep doing it. Why you stopping? The people like it.

Q. Were you ever concerned today when she started the match quite aggressively?
JELENA JANKOVIC: Yeah, I mean, the match is not over until it's over. Until the end you are out there competing. You're playing every point. So until it's finished, you never know what's going to happen.

Q. What about the weather conditions? Did they affect your game at all today?
JELENA JANKOVIC: It was hard for both of us, especially from one side the wind was very strong. So you keep hitting as hard as you can and the ball doesn't go anywhere. From the other side, you hit a little bit and the ball flies. It was difficult, but it was the same condition for both players.

Q. Are you concerned that it's the same conditions for tomorrow or the day after?
JELENA JANKOVIC: It's okay, you know. We're getting used to it, because the whole two weeks the weather has been like this. You have to really try your best. The most important thing is to move your feet and be on every ball.

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