PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC: To coin a phrase from the London 2012 Olympic Games, Serbia go into their first Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Final looking to “inspire a generation”.
The generation in question is the legion of faithful Serbian fans, a large number of whom are expected to be in full voice at the O2 Arena in Prague this weekend, and for whom the players feel compelled to win their first Fed Cup trophy.
“Winning Fed Cup would be a very special feeling,” said Jelena Jankovic at the pre-draw press conference on Wednesday. “It’s difficult to compare it to your individual tournaments when you are lifting trophies because you are basically there on your own and here you can celebrate with your team.
“For me, personally, the inspiration is the Serbian people and I always feel an obligation to give more than 100 per cent. Winning the title would be an amazing achievement.”
In order to achieve that goal the Serbian team of Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic, Bojana Jovanovski and Aleksandra Krunic must overcome the defending champions on their own patch – no mean feat.
And they will try to draw on their own experience of being inspired by their countrymen, who won the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas title in 2010, and in so doing kick-started a mini tennis revolution in their homeland.
Ivanovic added: “I remember a couple of years ago I was there when they [the Serbian Davis Cup team] were winning and it was epic. We will try our best and to match what the guys did would be amazing .”
In order to win the title the Serbs will have to take down the left-handed duo of Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova on an indoor court in front of a buoyant Czech crowd.
Jankovic dispelled any notion that the surface would prove favourable to the host nation, saying that it “suits us” and that the balls get fluffed up quite quickly which slows them down and should play into Serbia’s hands.
And as for playing lefthanders, Jankovic was similarly pragmatic: “It’s a little bit different, there aren’t that many players on the WTA Tour who are left-handed, but we have our hitting partner who is left-handed and we are preparing very well. I personally do not have a problem and I just try to focus on my game and my tennis.”
One thing is for sure, winning Fed Cup would be a perfect end to what has been a mixed year for all of the Serbian team.
Follow all of the action live on FedCup.com.