Re: Jelena Jankovic News and Articles Thread, vol 3
05 February 2016
Strong Spain provide stern test for Serbia
By Zoran Milosavljevic
KRALJEVO, SERBIA: Serbia and Spain will lock horns in a Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II tie worthy of a top-tier contest, given that some of the game’s top names will take centre stage in the Kraljevo Sports Hall the upcoming weekend.
It will be the second meeting between these two sides, with Serbia coming out on top 4-0 in their previous clash in Lleida in 2009, when former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic led her team’s charge.
Jankovic, who will turn 31 later this month and is ranked 19th on the WTA tour, is once again Serbia’s best hope of prevailing against strong favourites Spain, who will bank on having a pair of versatile Top 10 singles players in their ranks.
Garbine Muguruza, the world No. 5, will take on Serbia’s second-ranked player Bojana Jovanovski (world No. 87) in Saturday’s opening singles rubber, followed by an intriguing clash between Jankovic and Carla Suarez-Navarro, currently No. 8 on the WTA Tour.
“I am delighted to be back as there is no better feeling than competing for your country’s colours,” Jankovic, who last played for Serbia in a 3-1 defeat by the Czech Republic in the 2012 final, told the ITF.
“We are up against very tough opposition, one of the best teams in the competition quality-wise. It’s going to be a big challenge for all of us but although they are the favourites on paper, anything can happen.”
“Our advantage is playing on home soil and having the crowd behind us, so we are really looking forward to it.”
With 48 Fed Cup appearances after making her debut in 2001, Jankovic will draw on her vast experience as she also takes on Muguruza in Sunday’s opening reverse singles before Jovanovski meets Suarez-Navarro.
Spain’s team captain Conchita Martinez nominated Lara Arruabarrena and Lourdes Dominguez Lino for the tie-ending doubles but conceded she may opt for her two top singles players if the contest goes down to the wire.
“It all depends how the tie goes. Obviously, Carla and Garbine are also very good doubles players, they have played together and if it comes to that and they are fit, they probably will play,” she said.
“I think it’s going to be a good tie because Serbia have a very strong team but we are also a force to be reckoned with. They are at home while we have two Top-10 players who are in very good form at the moment.”
“It’s good that Garbine is out first as she is expected to win against Jovanovski, although you never know in the Fed Cup. But obviously, Serbia’s stronger player is Jelena and she is the one to beat.”
Despite boasting three strong doubles players in the current roster, this particular segment has been Spain’s undoing in several crucial ties recently, notably in a 3-2 defeat by Romania last April and the 3-2 loss to the Czech Republic in the 2014 World Group I first round.
Serbia’s teenage prospect Ivana Jorovic, who shone in their impressive run through the Europe/Africa zone in 2015 before they climbed back into World Group II with a home win over Paraguay, was upbeat about her team’s chances of staging an upset.
“I am so excited about the tie and I believe we have a good chance of beating Spain,” she said with a big smile.
“I think it’s a 50-50 tie because being a Top-10 player doesn’t always mean that much in this competition, especially in the women’s game. It’s not for certain that Nina Stojanovic and I will play Sunday’s doubles although we have been nominated, but I am confident we can beat anyone and will relish the prospect if selected.”
Muguruza, in turn, acknowledged the home court advantage could be a factor playing into Serbia’s hands.
“That’s the first and most important thing, making it difficult for us,” she said. “But we are trying hard to go up to the top tier and in order to achieve that, we must keep in mind that rankings don’t matter in the Fed Cup as it all comes down to doing your work.”
R1 Bojana Jovanovski (SRB) v Garbine Muguruza (ESP)
R2 Jelena Jankovic (SRB) v Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP)
R3 Jelena Jankovic (SRB) v Garbine Muguruza (ESP)
R4 Bojana Jovanovski (SRB) v Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP)
R5 Ivana Jorovic/Nina Stojanovic (SRB) v Lara Arruabarrena/Lourdes Dominguez Lino (ESP)
Serena: "We have great personalities like Jelena (Jankovic) on the tour."
Jelena: "If I had to pick someone after me, I'd pick Serena."