By JAMES HENRY
CINCINNATI – If you saw Jelena Janković stranded alongside the road, would you stop and help?
On her way Tuesday to practice at the Lindner Family Tennis Center, site of the Western & Southern Open, the Serbian star’s car quit.
“My mom was like, ‘Oh, this car is not working.’ We were like, ‘What do you mean it’s not working?’ It just stopped. It’s not working. Something is wrong with it,” she recalled.
“We looked, and it was zero gas inside the car. I was like, ‘Oh my God. Great. I have 20 minutes before my practice session.’”
Fortunately, a gas station was nearby. Janković, who won the Cincinnati tournament title in 2009, and her coach walked two minutes to get a fuel can.
“We kind of didn’t know how you open this nozzle thing and stuff like that because it never happened,” she said. “Then we ran out, you know, and then he put it in and it was OK. Then we got going.”
But, Janković noted, several other tennis pros saw her – and kept driving.
“There were some players passing through and looking at us in the middle of the road, like, ‘What is she doing up there?’” she laughed. “Pretty funny."
Janković, however, took the incident in stride.
“It’s not how you begin the day. It’s how you end it,” she said. And her day ended very well. She handily beat Iveta Benešová 6-0, 6-3 to advance to the second round, where she’ll take on qualifier Jie Zheng.
So would Janković have stopped for another tennis player?
“Yeah, sure. Why not?” she said. “I think it’s human. You know, you can help whoever it is if they have some problem.”
“But it was not a big deal. It was just I didn’t want to be late for my practice session. It took 10 minutes, but you’re kind of panicking because you have a match.”
“But, anyway, it was pretty funny, and now everybody knows about it.”
James Henry is a contributing writer for OnTheGoTennis and is currently in Cincinnati covering the tournament. To follow him on Twitter click here.