by JAMES HENRY
CINCINNATI – Jelena Janković is doubling her pleasure and doubling her fun.
The former World No. 1 in singles has recently been competing in doubles as a way to improve her tennis skills.
She and Mirjana Lučić-Baroni reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon this summer, after making it to the third round at the Australian Open and the French Open.
And last week at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, she and Katarina Srebotnik earned the championship trophy.
“I started playing doubles this year, and I reached my career high of 25 in the doubles, won the tournament last week in Toronto, which was amazing,” she said. “The reason I started playing doubles is because I want to improve my singles game and I really want to come in a lot.”
Janković defeated Roberta Vinci 6-0, 6-4 to advance to the semifinals at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. She won the tournament in 2009.
“Against Vinci, I was coming in a lot to the net, pretty much every other point or every point. As much as I could, I tried to approach those shots and finish the balls at the net,” she said. “So I think I played very well. Tactically, I executed my shots.
“Of course, playing the doubles helps me feel more comfortable at the net and positioning. I’m still learning. I’m still learning how to play that game, but it’s, I think, improved a lot. So I will try to keep on playing.”
Serena Williams and defending champion Li Na will compete in the first semifinal, which is scheduled to start not before 7 p.m. Saturday. Then, Janković takes on Victoria Azarenka.
Janković said she loves competing in Cincinnati and is happy that she is continuing to improve, both physically and mentally.
“You know, the most important thing is I was able to figure out my way and win. Even when the times got tough and I didn’t play my best tennis, I was strong mentally and got through those matches,” she said.
“Hopefully, I can just keep on improving and getting better,” she added.
Photos by James Henry for OnTheGoTennis