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November 3, 2008

Jelena Jankovic


THE MODERATOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the 2008 Sony Ericsson Championships. We'd like to start off with our first player, the world's No. 1 from Serbia, Jelena Jankovic. She has a 63-17 win-loss record this year. Winning more singles matches than anyone else in 2008.
She's had an excellent second half of the year since winning Rome, she's won three consecutive titles during the month of October, and she's also reached her first Grand Slam singles final at the U.S. Open recently.
Her claim to fame in 2008 is becoming the first Serbian ever, man or woman, to finish a season ranked No. 1 in the world, and she's only the ninth woman in history to do so.
She's making her second appearance at this event after her debut last year. Please welcome Jelena Jankovic. So I'll turn it over to questions in English.

Q. Last year you played more matches than anybody else and finished the season exhausted. This year you don't seem to have done anything different. You seemed to have played a colossal number of matches and you look quite fresh. Why is it different? What is different about this year?
JELENA JANKOVIC: Last year I was playing a lot more, because last year I almost played 29 or 30 tournaments, and this year I think it's 22.
I don't feel tired because especially in the first half of the season I had a lot of injuries and I was wasn't training as hard, so I still had so much left in me.
As for the year before, I was playing all the time. I had no injuries, and by the end of the year, I was very exhausted, which is not the case this year.
I was very hungry to do well, because after the Olympics it was the first period in the year that I didn't have any health problems, that I was able to work hard 100% on my training. I spent many hours in the gym as well, and playing finals at the Open gave me a lot of confidence. And I started working even harder and harder every day.
The results were coming, and winning three tournaments in a row motivated me and just pushed me to go forward. I kept winning and winning, so I left to finish the year, and I have one more tournament to play here in Doha, the Championships. And, hopefully, I can finish the year in a good way, because for me, finishing up 1 in the world is a huge achievement. It's something that I only could dream of.
It's a huge achievement to even be No. 1 for a week, but finishing the year, as John said, I'm only the ninth player in the history of women's tennis to have achieved that. It's really huge for me and quite exciting.

Q. Just expanding on that No. 1 theme, it's been quite fascinating since Justine retired how many of you have climbed up to the top of the rankings. Has that made it even more exciting on the tour this year?
JELENA JANKOVIC: Yeah, in the beginning, since Justine retired, just before the French Open, there was a spot open for everybody. And everybody was so close with the rankings, and we were all working hard to come to that spot, and during the year many of us have become No. 1 in the world.
But at the end in the second half of the season, after the Open, I kind of wanted it more and I pushed myself. I knew that I had to win all these tournaments to become No. 1, and to stay there for the rest of the year. My goal was to do that, and I'm really proud of myself that, you know, I could cope with all the pressure, and I could get all the points and secure my No. 1 ranking for the rest of the year.

Q. How are you and Ana in the same, you must be very happy it gives you a chance for both of you to finish and to be in the final?
JELENA JANKOVIC: Yes, we will try. We'll play against each other one match, and maybe we'll both qualify and go into the semifinals, but you never know. We play one match at a time, and I will try my best every time I go on the court, and I try to really play my game, and I try to win. We will see. Hopefully, I can have a great tournament, and hopefully she can as well.

Q. You have seen the transformation of the Qatar Stadium as well, what do you have to say about the transformation?
JELENA JANKOVIC: It is different. It's beautiful. The whole complex inside the locker rooms, the other rooms as well. Everything has changed. It's so much more -- it's way nicer than it was. I feel great, and all the people who are working inside, I feel that the players are very welcome. I just look forward to a great tournament.

Q. You are the No. 1 now, but what do you think was so difficult for Sharapova, for you, for Ivanovic to keep the No. 1 position? Maybe it was an unexpected task before the tournament?
JELENA JANKOVIC: What do you mean to keep the ranking?

Q. Yeah, to get the No. 1, when Sharapova was the No. 1?
JELENA JANKOVIC: Yeah, I became No. 1 in the world during the Olympics, and that was the first time that I came to that No. 1 position. And at that time I was really not ready. I didn't feel like the No. 1 in the world, because I had a lot of injuries.
I was just coming back from an injury that I got at Wimbledon, which I had a tear in my meniscus. So I wasn't able to train for three weeks. I didn't do anything when I was playing in the Olympics. At that time I was completely out of form, and not really playing great tennis.
When I became No. 1, I really felt like I observed that spot. At the end of the year I really pushed myself very hard, and I felt that I deserved to be the No. 1 player in the world, because I won three tournaments in a row.
I played finals at the Open, so that part of the season, I feel like I was really dominating the dual status, and I really deserved to finish as the number one No. 1 player in the world.

Q. Do you feel that arriving here in he Doha makes you the favorite to win the championships? And if it doesn't --
JELENA JANKOVIC: I don't know who are the favorites. I don't know how the others are playing, and who has held it before. But all I know is that I will go out there and I will play my tennis, and my goal is to have a good result, and to go as far as possible.
I would love to finish the year in the best possible way, so I will try my best, but there is many. Here are only the top 8 players. It's such an elite group. So everybody who is playing here are really great players, the best in the world. So none of the matches will be easy. There will be a great competition during the week, and the best one will win.

Q. After winning three tournaments in a row and the injuries, you said at that time you were exhausted. So what did you do between these last match in Zurich and now, did you rest or did you prepare hard?
JELENA JANKOVIC: Yeah, I rested. I was really exhausted. Because winning three tournaments especially playing China, and Moscow, and Stuttgart, it changed many climates, many different countries and continents. So, of course, my body was exhausted and physically and mentally I was just tired and ran out of gas. I really needed a rest. So I rested for a week. I didn't touch a racquet, I just couldn't play.
I started training little by little, and you know, I'm still every day since I came to Doha, I'm trying to adapt to the weather. I'm trying to get my rhythm. Trying to get in form for this tournament.
At the moment I'm still not satisfied with both how I'm playing and how I'm doing. But hopefully when I start to play the matches I will get my rhythm, and I will feel better about my game.

Q. Two Serbs are No. 1 this year, do you have a strong feeling that you have an involvement with Ana? Do you know each other well?
JELENA JANKOVIC: Not at all. I don't really look at it as a rivalry. I think it's great for Serbian tennis, and we have two top girls in the world Serbian. We have the tradition now, so for us having players like us, it's something that doesn't happen every day. It's something that maybe will not happen in the future.
We can all push each other, and we can all motivate each other, because I think it's great that there are two of us. If I was the only one coming out, I wouldn't have anybody to kind of push me to go forward. As well as the other players, because we are all the same, we're all competing for the same -- for the No. 1 position, and we all want to be the best.
So there is no reason for her or for anybody to form this kind of rivalry. We all, we go on the court, we compete against each other. We are normal, when we step off the court, we are just normal girls. There is room for everybody in either rankings.

Q. What do you feel your greatest achievement has been this year? Was it winning three weeks in a row or winning the year as No. 1 or something else?
JELENA JANKOVIC: Well, for me, winning those three tournaments in a row, because winning one tournament is great, but winning it three weeks in a row is really special, because it shows that you are in form, you are doing well, and you are beating those top players week in and week out.
You are playing every week against the same ones and not beating them once, but beating them a few weeks in a row, which shows that you are playing great tennis, you are in form, and you are doing very well.
I was proud of myself, because I really worked very, very hard. A lot of practice, and I really worked hard in the gym, and all that hard work was starting to pay off.
Even, because in the beginning of the year I wasn't able to do that, and I wasn't really happy with the way I was playing, and even though many matches I was winning. I was making great results like at the semis at the Australian Open, the finals in Miami.
But I wasn't really happy with the way I was playing. After many matches I was winning because of my fighting spirit. Because I just wanted it, I wanted to win the matches, but not because I was playing great.
In the second half, because I was healthy, and I didn't have any health problems, no injuries, I wasn't sick, nothing was bothering me. I was able to bring my game to the next level, and I kept improving every day, every day, getting stronger and stronger, which allowed me to do that, and to finish the year as the best player in the world.

Q. As someone who almost never goes out in the first or second round, who always goes deep into the tournament, the itinerary and schedule must be very important. Does next year's WTA road map meet your approval? Are you satisfied with it? Will it help you?
JELENA JANKOVIC: I don't know. Because there are still some discussions. We had that discussion yesterday. The players are still working on it. And I would like to see some of the changes, but I cannot discuss any further until everything has been definite, and until they make the final decision, that this is the way it's going to be next year, and that's all we have to accept it, and go on with it.

Q. It could still be modified?
JELENA JANKOVIC: I don't know (laughing). We'll see what will happen. But for me, I really tried to play my tournaments as long as I'm healthy, I try to do my best, and I don't really complain too much about it.

Q. What did you learn from reaching your first Grand Slam final that you think might help you going into Australia?
JELENA JANKOVIC: Yes, playing in the final was great. I really wanted to win that match. My first Grand Slam, but it didn't happen. But it was a great experience. And for me didn't really feel like -- I wasn't thinking that, oh, my God, it's a final. I am so nervous. I just went out there and I took it as just another final of a tournament.
Unfortunately, I didn't win, but I really got the experience and the confidence, and I feel that I'm really ready to start winning Grand Slams. I think that next year my time will come, and that is my goal. That is something that I'm going after.
I have achieved one of my goals which was to become No. 1, and to finish No. 1 in the world. So that was a dream come true for me. Now the next step is staying as long as possible in the No. 1 position and winning Grand Slams.

Q. Do you think Qatar seems like a new era? Do you feel that you and the others playing here can help to feel in a different way or to improve that view? If the successful women could help here to women to feel the same way to the men, talking with Larry Scott yesterday, he told me that he feels that WTA could help being here?
JELENA JANKOVIC: I think overall women should be respected as much as the men, and have the same values as the men. I hope that we can be a good influence for the change, for the women here that they can have more respect and that things will change in the future for them.

Q. When you play, how much important is your personality that you brought on court?
JELENA JANKOVIC: How important is my personality on the court?

Q. How much important is your personality?
JELENA JANKOVIC: I am a player who shows emotions. I smile on the court, I also get moody on the court. I think that the fans and the people who are watching me play they can always feel how -- they always know how I'm feeling, because I express my emotions and I show everything depending on how I'm feeling in the moment.
Then that's just me. That's just my personality and who I am. Maybe I'm different to the others because I am quite an emotional person. I'm also very sensitive. So I cry very easily, but most of the time I'm laughing and I'm very positive out going person.
But when I'm playing, I'm competing very hard, and those intense matches when important moments are coming, you have to get yourself going. You have to do something. For me, it helps me to play my best tennis.
But, overall, when I'm smiling, when I'm positive, when I'm feeling good, that's when I play really my best game. And that's how I try to be. I go out with a great, positive attitude, and I believe that I can do anything on the court, and that's how I'm thinking. I'm confident, I'm going out there, and I'm believing in myself, and that's all I care about.

Q. You said that becoming No. 1 has been your goal, given that you're defending very few rankings points here, do you think that will liberate you and your game? It seems to be a very tough week.
JELENA JANKOVIC: No, I don't have any pressure, because no matter how I do here, I'm finishing as the No. 1 player in the world, so I can just go out there and really play my tennis and enjoy it, and hopefully have a good tournament. Because if I do that, I really expect the lead even more, which would be great for me for next year because I can hopefully keep my ranking for a long time. And that would really be a huge help if I can. I don't know how many points I'm ahead of the No. 2 and No. 3 player in the world.
So if I do really well here, my lead will be even better and it will be tougher for them to catch me next year. So many weeks, the more weeks I spend on the No. 1 position, the better. So I would love to and I will try my best to do well here.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you all very much.

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