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October 23, 2013

Jelena Jankovic


J. JANKOVIC/V. Azarenka
6‑4, 6‑3

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Pretty clean match from you.  You seemed to control it very well.  You were opportunistic.  The whole time she was a little bit off, but it seemed like it was in your hands most of the time.
JELENA JANKOVIC:  Yeah.  First of all, Vika is a great champion, and I knew it was going to be a tough match, especially we played against each other in Cincinnati and I lost in three sets, and I think the difference today was that I was serving much better.
I was able to hold my serve and stay focused when I was serving and I waited for my chances to break, and she made some double faults at times and I took advantage of that.
So I think that for my first match, playing Vika was not easy, and I'm really happy I was able to win today.  Gave me a lot of confidence.  It's a great win for me.

Q.  When you lose four times in a row...

Q.  In a row, coming into this match.
JELENA JANKOVIC:  Yeah, but we only played once this year, and a long time‑‑ I beat her in 2009.  So I think it was 1‑All in the last three years or how long?  2009 I won, and she beat me...

Q.  Few times after that.
JELENA JANKOVIC:  When?  Yeah, one more time in Sydney.  So that's about it.  One more?
It seems like ‑‑(laughter).   It shows how great I am with my statistics, but it's actually not bad, because I don't remember any of those losses.  So that's fine.

Q.  Obviously they weren't weighing on your mind?
JELENA JANKOVIC:  No, they were not on my mind, to be honest.  I think the great thing is that you want to remember all the beautiful things from the past and keep them in your memories.
All the negative things, not the nice things, you want to put them aside and forget about them. So, you know, I just remember the good times, and what I remember, you know, was this match this year.  We played some really good tennis off the ground, but we had 23 breaks of serves last time in Cincinnati.
So this time I was serving much better, and I was able to take advantage of that and I was pretty solid off the ground.  Yeah, it was my first match playing in front of the Turkish crowd here in Istanbul, and I was really excited to be playing out there.  I really look forward to continuing, you know, with some great matches in the next few days.

Q.  You actually seemed as though you were having a wonderful time out there, not just playing a tennis match, but actually really relishing the experience.  Do you think that's a testament to the new attitude?
JELENA JANKOVIC:  Yeah.  First of all, I'm very happy that I was able to qualify and give myself a chance to play here in the Championships.  Here I am.
You know, I want to enjoy and take my opportunities and enjoy my time here, give my best on the court, try to perform at the highest level.  And here are the top 8 best players in the world.  You have to stay on top of your game if you want to, you know, give yourself a chance to win.
So I'm very excited.  You know, so far I have fun on the court.  I enjoy the Turkish crowd, and I think it's an amazing experience and amazing atmosphere.  So it doesn't get better than this.

Q.  Coming into this match, you didn't have a lot of success against top 4 players recently.

Q.  Fair enough.
JELENA JANKOVIC:  I don't care, so you guys shouldn't either.

Q.  Do you feel like you have something to do?  Did you feel like coming into this match you had something to prove?
JELENA JANKOVIC:  I have nothing to prove to anybody.  I just enjoy what I do.
Every time you get an opportunity to do something and to do something well, you want to, you know, make it happen.  Doesn't matter how many times you lose.  Every match is a new match.
I have been given an opportunity, you know, tonight to be playing against the No. 2 player in the world.  Even though I lost this year, that does not mean anything.  Tonight was different.  I was able to make some changes, and I took advantage of some of the things that she hasn't done well and won my match.
So, you know, it depends on the day, as well.  And if you stay positive, if you believe in yourself, I think you can achieve a lot of things.
When I have a smile on my face, I think I get more dangerous, too (smiling).

Q.  Do you think that getting a result like this, does that suggest your standard is as high as it used to be when you were at the top, or...
JELENA JANKOVIC:  You know, you can't measure that.  I don't have a scale or something that can measure, oh, yeah, I played better or the same or worse when I was No. 1 in the world.
I think every year the game changes, and I'm trying to add new things to my game.  I think I have improved a lot, and especially on my serve, you know, I think it makes a difference in my game.
You know, my serve was so much weaker in the past.  And even when I was No. 1 in the world I was great off the ground, but sometimes the serve would let me down.
But now it's, you know, a big improvement.  I didn't even know I was the second one ‑‑ when they introduced me on the court, they said I was the second player with the most aces or something like that.
What was that?  Some kind of statistic like that.  I was like, Really?  I felt I was Karlovic, you know.  (Laughter).
Me with, you know, some kind of serving statistic?  In a positive way?  It's kind of unusual.
But, you know, with the hard work, I think you can improve.  And obviously, you know, I want to get a lot better and I want to still, you know, try to improve every segment in my game, every stroke, mentally and physically.
And so here we are at the Championships.  I have come a long way, and I want to finish the year strong.  I want to do the best that I can.  You know, couple more days to go, and we will see how it will end up.

Q.  How about your confidence levels?  I don't mean here in the press conference, but when you walk out onto court, do you feel as confident as you did three or four years ago when you were at the very top of the rankings?
JELENA JANKOVIC:  Yeah, I feel pretty confident.  I, you know, had a great week in Beijing two weeks ago, played the finals, have beaten some of the girls that are here in the draw, lost to Serena.
There's no reason for me not to be confident.  I believe in myself.  I prepared very well.  I enjoy myself.
I believe that I can, you know, compete against these players and that I can win.  I think if you think that in your mind, then you can do it.
If you go on court thinking, yeah, I'm going to lose, then you better not even go.  Just shake their hand before and finish the match.
So we are, you know, professional athletes.  And when you have been No. 1 in the world and I have beaten all these players that are here in the past, against some I have better records, against some not so, but I have had wins.  So there is‑‑ you know, if you can do it in the past, you can do it again.
And I think here, you know, it's very tough competition.  Every match is difficult.  There is no easy points.  You have to work really hard and really play in the top of your game if you want to go far, if you want to, you know, have a lot of wins.
So I just hope that tonight was great, and hopefully I can continue.  You know, I have another tough opponent tomorrow which is Na Li.  She has beaten me at the US Open and, you know, I beat her in Rome which is on clay which doesn't count.  So we will see.  You know, another tough one ahead of me tomorrow.  Hopefully I can bring on some good things.

Q.  I felt like you were enjoying yourself in the court, but you also seemed very ambitious.
JELENA JANKOVIC:  Ambitious?  In what way?

Q.  In what way?  You seemed like you want to win this tournament.  On a scale of 1 to 10, how ambitious are you about winning this tournament?
JELENA JANKOVIC:  I want to go one match at a time.  I have tough opponents in my group, a tough road ahead of me.
I have, you know, high expectations of myself.  Like I said, my main focus is when I go on the court, try to play my best tennis, do what I have done on the practice court, try to transfer that into the matches.
I stay positive and fight hard.  We will see how far I can go.  You know, my goal is to try to pass this group, you know, because two players go out of the group and play semis, so that's my goal for now.
We'll see how it goes.

Q.  You mentioned taking advantage of some of the things that Victoria wasn't doing as well.  What were some of the weaknesses you spotted today that you were able to take advantage of?
JELENA JANKOVIC:  I think that it was important for me to take advantage of her, you know, when she was serving, try to break her, and, you know, try to put as much pressure as I could, and, you know, a few tactical things that I have done differently than last time we played.  So I think it made the difference.

Q.  Two things:  One, did you think that you might never get back to the year‑end Championships, No. 1, and secondly, you talked about some of the things you improved in your game, but do you think you're a better player than when you were at No. 1 or are you just trying to get back to that level?
JELENA JANKOVIC:  You know, to be honest, in the beginning of the year, I did not believe I was going to be here.

Q.  I mean more generally, though.
JELENA JANKOVIC:  No, generally, no.  I believed that I was going to make it sometime in the future, but I didn't think it was going to be this year, because it's a long process.
It's not easy.  You know, I was almost about to fall out of top 30.  I was 28 in the world when I went to play Bogota and I was defending semifinals of Dubai, so if I lost, let's say, in the first round, I'd be 30‑something in the world.
And there was a time when I had a little bit of fear, where am I going, what direction am I going, what's the way to come back to find those keys to get back on track and be the player I can be again?  And those were the times when, you know, I kind of had to sit back and, you know, try to turn around a lot of the things.
My brother came on the road with me.  We have worked very hard, and as well with my hitting partners and my team, and I just worked every day.  I put in a lot of hours on the court, in the gym, and tried to get better.
I think with hard work, you know, I started having better results.  My confidence was rising.  I got more belief.  I started doing very well in the bigger tournaments, and it gave me hope.  It gave me, you know, reason to work even harder.  I got more motivated, and the better I did, the more motivated I got.  I got hungrier to continue to propel through the rankings, to just, you know, play better tennis.
I really enjoyed, you know, playing some of those exciting matches and in the stadiums like this in front of great crowds.  It's what I play for.  It's why I want to be there and why I train very hard.

Q.  The second question?
JELENA JANKOVIC:  The second question was what?  (Laughter).

Q.  Do you think you're a better player?
JELENA JANKOVIC:  I'm a better player...

Q.  Than 2008 or...
JELENA JANKOVIC:  I don't know.  What do you guys think?  Am I a better player or a worse player?  Technically I'm better?

Q.  More shots, but mentally...  Sorry.  You asked.
JELENA JANKOVIC:  Yeah, but that's one person's opinion.
No, you know, some of the things are better than they were when I was No. 1 in the world.  Some, like my movement I think is great.  My serve is better than when I was No. 1 in the world.
My volleys are much better than ‑‑because I started to play doubles, I improved a lot in that department.  Some of the things are better.  Some of the things maybe are the same, some are worse, but overall I think I'm on the right track, which is the most important thing, you know.
The game is getting better, and those girls that I play against are so strong nowadays that you have to, you know, really be up there with them.

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