LONDON // Jelena Jankovic cried out for an escape route from the tennis-touring treadmill last week after a first round defeat at Eastbourne followed an early exit from the French Open. She looked on the verge of getting a couple of enforced weeks on the sidelines yesterday as she toiled and grumbled through her Wimbledon reappearance.
It was amazing to see how much one victory, even over an opponent as mundane as Germany's Julia Goerges, could transform the body language of the Serb. Now the former world No 1 is crying out for more over the next few days as she pursues a lifetime ambition to add a first grand slam success to the 10 titles she has collected on the WTA Tour. "I'm not really thinking about the break any more," said Jankovic, relieved to scramble through 6-4, 7-6 (7-0) against an opponent who looked like taking control towards the end of the second set, despite a lowly ranking of 93.
"Sometimes when you lose a match it's frustrating, which is normal. Nobody likes to lose. I don't think anybody's happy after a loss. And then it comes - a lot of things come to your mind. "But, you know, after the next day when you really think about everything you're just happy," added Jankovic. "I'm healthy. I can play good tennis. You know, I can go out on the court and enjoy. What more I can ask for? And I still have many, many years of playing. I'm only 24 years old. I still have a lot of time to prove myself."
Jankovic, who needed treatment after the first set for a broken toenail and blisters on her right foot, looked in trouble as Goerges led 5-2 in the second, but she could not deliver the killer blow. The German's despair at her failure to draw level against her out-of-sorts opponents contributed to her getting hammered in the tie-break which Jankovic took without losing a point. Jankovic, who tomorrow meets the 35th-ranked Iveta Benesova, will be aware that she will need to improve considerably to justify her sixth seeding here and qualify for a quarter-final against the holder and five-time winner Venus Williams. Venus had little more than an afternoon stroll in despatching Stefanie Voegele 6-3, 6-2 and revelled in her return to her favourite Centre Court.
In other matches, Vera Zvonareva beat Georgie Stoop 7-6 (7-0), 4-6, 6-4. French Open semi-finalist Samantha Stosur overcame Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-4, 6-7 (6-8), 6-2. Caroline Wozniacki continued her grass court form by defeating Kimiko Date Krumm 5-7, 6-3, 6-1. Li Na got the better of Galina Voskoboeva 7-6 (7-5), 6-0. @Email:email@example.com