Man, I am LOVING the recent surge of WTA posts over at Tennis.com. Today's post du jour ("Mmmm. I'll have that) is by Steve Tignor on the Serb That Loves To Torment Me, Jelena Jankovic. It's a great analysis of the change in her game over the past few months and it really taps into what I had been trying to articulate but never could. I do think that JJ used to just play and just be happy to reach the quarters and semis. She never struck me as a player with much desire, fire, or ambition. But I think she got a taste of that center stage in NYC and something clicked in her.
But my favorite part of the article is this, which so perfectly summarizes my love/annoynance relationship with the Glitter Queen:
Like I said, Jankovic’s mid-career desire for more success will be a—perhaps the—women’s story going into next season’s major events. It’s not like she doesn’t have the personality of a winner. I’ve never see anyone as simultaneously theatrical and wholly concentrated on the task at hand. Jankovic may be the least isolated, least alone great player on a tennis court since John McEnroe. During the most crucial games of the Stuttgart semi, late in the second set, she gesticulated wildly toward her box after missing a ball and engaged in running monologues with her coach and her mom. After one backhand miss, she let out a “Nooo!!!” that sounded not unlike a female Chewbacca. But when she finally broke at 5-6, Jankovic gave the crowd a wide smile as she watched her last shot sail past Venus and land on the line for a winner. It was a look of genuine joy at playing tennis, without a hint of gloating in it. She kept smiling toward her entourage as she walked off the court. Whether angry or happy or wacky, Jankovic is the rare player who can share the sport with the people watching her and still perform at her best.
That doesn’t mean Jankovic is a sweetheart. She milks arguments with the umpire to annoyingly dramatic effect, and, like her fellow Serb Novak Djokovic, she can lose her patience with the ball kids who don’t bring her sweaty towel to her quickly enough. And just because Jankovic engages the crowd doesn’t she isn’t single-minded, even a little ruthless, about winning—even up 5-2 in the third, she wasn't afraid to take an injury timeout.
You just keep doing what you're doing, JJ.