Jankovic puts friendship aside as she reaches Hong Kong Open quarter-finals
The Serbian defeats her friend and training partner, Aleksandra Krunic, in a hard-fought victory at the US$250,000 International series event at Victoria Park to earn a potential showdown with Venus Williams
Jelena Jankovic overcame her frustrations and her friend on a rainy day at the Prudential Hong Kong Open on Wednesday as she beat fellow Serbian Aleksandra Krunic in a hard-fought 6-3, 6-4 win to reach the quarter-finals of the US$250,000 International series event.
The reigning champion stayed on course to defend her title wrapping up the win against her doubles partner and former protege in 86 minutes.
Jankovic says the 23-year-old Krunic has a big future in the game and on the evidence of some deft play and smart shot selection that forced the 31-year-old to dig deep on several occasions she could be right.
“She’s a player who is very talented and I’ve known her a long time,” said Jankovic. “I used to be her mentor and now I play against her. It’s amazing to see her grow up and come to this stage.
Watch: Jelena Jankovic defeating compatriot Aleksandra Krunic
“I don’t like to play against someone who is my friend. It’s never easy. I prefer to play someone else, but she played really well.”
After being broken twice in the opening set, Krunic fought in the second to ensure her more experienced opponent worked hard for her ticket into the last eight.
Both players struggled to hold serve early in the second set, but by the fifth game Jankovic began to control the tempo and moved into a commanding lead. When she managed to lose that game from a strong position, her mood darkened in tandem with the quickly growing rain clouds over Centre Court.
Watch: Jelena Jankovic wins last year’s Hong Kong Open
An unfortunate line judge and bungling ball boy felt the brunt of her frustration.
“I’m always annoyed at myself,” said the world number 37. “It’s part of me on the tennis court. I show my emotions and if I make a mistake, I get angry.”
Her mood brightened as she took control to see out a win which sets her up for a potential last eight showdown against her great rival Venus Williams, who faces Alize Cornet in her second round clash later on Wednesday night.
Watch: Jelena Jankovic beats Venus Williams in last year’s Hong Kong Open semi
The Serbian holds a slender 7-6 advantage in the head-to-head and won her last meeting with the American at the semi-final stage of last year’s Hong Kong Open.
“I’ve had so many great matches against Venus. She’s a great champion. It’s gonna be a tough match - it always is. I always enjoy it.”