Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic both gained the world No. 1 ranking during the summer of 2008, a golden period for Serbian women’s tennis.
During that year, Jankovic reached the semifinals at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, and also finished runner-up at the US Open. Ivanovic went one better, winning her sole Grand Slam title in Paris as well as reaching the final in Melbourne.
In 2009, both players saw their individual form dip with neither making it past a Grand Slam fourth round. Collectively, however, they teamed up to steer Serbia into the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group for the first time in its history.
Serbia now hosts Russia in an intriguing first round clash, to be played in Belgrade on an indoor hard court. With the outcome appearing delicately balanced, Jankovic is excited about playing in front of a home crowd.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Jankovic. “It’s going to be an amazing event. We’re playing for the second time in Serbia. We already experienced it once when we played against Japan. We played in Belgrade and just the support of the crowd was really unbelievable. This feeling you can’t really explain.”
Despite being a former Wimbledon mixed doubles champion, partnering Jamie Murray to win the title in 2007, Jankovic spends the vast majority of her time on a singles court, but is quick to point out the benefit of a good team spirit.
“Our sport is individual and we’re used to being alone on the court,” said Jankovic. “Playing in Fed Cup, it’s teamwork, not only about playing for yourself. It’s about all the other girls as well, you know, everything counts.
“We support each other during the matches and it’s nice to have that atmosphere, a good, positive atmosphere around us. We cheer each other on and hopefully one day we can be winners of the Fed Cup. I think we have a good team.”