CTL will help promote tennis in India: Jelena Jankovic
For a country like India that is deprived of top class tennis action due to lack of top-tier tournaments, organisation of the Champions Tennis League (CTL) will be great for the sport, says former world number one Jelena Jankovic.
New Delhi: For a country like India that is deprived of top class tennis action due to lack of top-tier tournaments, organisation of the Champions Tennis League (CTL) will be great for the sport, says former world number one Jelena Jankovic.
The 29-year-old Serbian singles star, ranked 14, will play for 'Delhi Dreams' in the six-team league beginning November 17 here at DLTA Complex.
India hosts only one ATP 250 tournament - Chennai Open - at the beginning of the season and it was way back in 2008 when the country hosted a top WTA event.
"I think the league will help promote tennis in India.
There were some tournaments in India several years ago, I was in Bangalore in 2008. It is nice to have a league and get top players playing. I think the standard is great. We have a lot of big names, great champions from the past and now (present)," Jelena told PTI from Thailand, where she is holidaying.
"I think, it's fun and exciting to play in that part of the world. It's a different format. I have never played something like that. I have played Fed Cup, which is different. I am really looking forward to playing in that kind of competition in front of the Indian fans," she said.
The Delhi team, also featuring South African Kevin Anderson, Juan Carlos Ferrero and India's Sanam Singh, is co-owned by Bollywood actor Ajay Devgan and businessman Sanjeev Kassal.
Jelena, who became world number one in 2008 after reaching the US Open final, said there should be no doubt about the approach of the players in the league.
ATP President Chris Kermode had called Mahesh Bhupathi's IPTL a glorified exhibitions.
"I don't think that's the case. I think the players will give their best and it will be a great competition," she asserted.
Talking about Sania Mirza, whom the Serbian beat in all five meetings on the WTA tour, Jelena said the Indian made a good decision last year by restricting herself to doubles only.
Jelena said Sania could have fared better in singles had she not suffered those injuries when she was in her prime.
"She is a great player and Sania has promoted tennis in India very well. In the past I have played against her in the singles and she was good. I think she could have done better (without injuries) but that's the way it is. And I think it was a great decision because she is very successful in doubles now. It was up to her," she said.
Talking about her career, Jankovic hoped to win the elusive women's singles Grand Slam title in the next season.
She had become the first Serbian to win a Grand Slam when she clinched the Wimbledon mixed doubles with Jamie Murray in 2007.
Asked if she feels next year may be her last chance to win a singles Grand Slam as she was already in her late 20s, Jelena had a hearty laugh and replied," I don't see this as the last shelf. I still feel young. I still have quite a few more years to go. Hopefully 2015 will be my year to win my first Grand Slam."
Competing against the top players of this era, Jelena has played some memorable matches. She developed some great rivalries with her compatriot Ana Ivanovic and American sisters Serena and Venus Williams.
She trails Ana 3-8 and Serena 3-7 in head-to-head count.
With Venus she is tied 6-6 in 12 meetings.
So, which rivalry has she enjoyed the most?
"I like competing overall, there is not one player, who was special to compete with. Every opponent is tough in their individual way. I have enjoyed being on court and trying my best to beat them," Jelena said.
She got trained in the US from the age of 13 but Jelena feels things have changed in her country for better now.
"Tennis has become very popular in Serbia with the players succeeding over the last few years. We are still working on getting better facilities for our players for the younger generation to develop and become champions.
"We have opened up lot of tours for them but we are still working making a better system. We are a small country and financially we are not great. We are trying our best."
Recently she was troubled by a back injury but the Serbian said she was getting back to her best.
"Now I am feeling good, started training and finished my recovery. Little by little I am trying to get back in shape."