Jelena made the semi-finals of the Tokyo Pan Pacific Open this week - her first tournament of 2004 after missing the Australian Open. She struggled past two modest players in three sets each, then eased past a player returning from a long layoff, despite suffering from a leg-injury that ruined her chances in the semi-finals.
"I was very close to going to Australia this year, but I was just not quite ready physically. I definitely see myself going back - hopefully next year," Jelena said on Wednesday.
In the first round on Wednesday, Jelena made a rusty start to her first match of the year, squeezing past the cute Cara Black (sister of Selesian player Byron Black) 3-6 7-6 (7/5) 6-1.
"This is a tough tournament to start at because everyone has already played. For the first match of the year, it was pretty good today. She sliced everything and played quite well, so I was happy to get out of a tough situation."
On Thursday, Jelena made a meal of her second round against Janette Husárová, winning 7-6 (9/7) 6-7 (2/7) 6-1 in a low-profile match in which she had led 7-6 4-1.
Friday's quarter-final opponent was Tatiana Panova, ranked #250 but playing with an injury-protected ranking of #33 after an absence from June to December 2003 for reasons that are too sensitive for me to discuss (see http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.p...2&page=3&pp=40
Jelena showed glimpses of her old form as she thrashed Panova 6-1 6-1 in 44 minutes, although frankly I think she could have beaten Panova with her left hand tied behind her back, and Davenport could have beaten Panova with a frying-pan for a racket.
"It's difficult to start here, the surface is not easy and everyone played already. I didn't even expect to get this far. I would have been happy to win a match, considering that this is the first tournament.
"My head is the key to winning matches. I had a very tough season last year, off court and on court. I started to work really, really hard at the end of last year, and it paid off. I think I've got my focus back."
Jelena discussed her injury after losing her semi-final to three-time champion Lindsay Davenport on Saturday:
"I had my left leg strained two days ago in my second-round match and I was very doubtful even yesterday. But it was a little bit an easier match, I knew if I just hit the ball yesterday, I can get through the match, which I did.
"But with Lindsay, it was a different story, she serves well and plays completely different. If I'm not 100% and cannot move against her, it makes it difficult.
"I tried a few games as much as I could. But with the other semi-final being defaulted, it wouldn't have been so good for the tournament if I hadn't played the semi-finals.
"I'm happy that the injury is not worse, because last year and two years ago, I was injured after this tournament. It's not a tear or anything, it's just a strain. Hopefully, if I can have two or three days without playing, it will get better."
`Pug-Dog' Davenport produced a "flawless display" [ITV Teletext] to extend her head-to-head against Jelena to 9-0 with a 6-1 6-0 victory in 42 minutes. Jelena could hardly run. I didn't know she was injured, but I had a bad feeling that Jelena was going to do worse against Davenport than Daniela Hantuchová did (2-6 2-6), so I just prayed that it wouldn't be 6-0 6-0.
Davenport: "Obviously, there is a little bit of sympathy involved. I've tried to play injured many times and it's just a losing proposition. You're not really sure what to do. The odds of her coming back are increasingly difficult once you're injured and really far down in the match."
with Daniela Hantuchová:
Dr. Andrew Broad