World’s former No. 1 returns to Open, readies to call Rancho Santa Fe home

CARLSBAD — Within the next few months, the world’s former No.1 ranked tennis player Jelena Jankovic will have represented her country in the London Olympics and moved into her new home in Rancho Santa Fe where she’ll make her new home base. But before that, the 27-year-old Serbian will have competed in the Mercury Insurance Open.

Jankovic has drawn a first-round bye in the tournament, something that she said is nice to have because it allows her a little more time to train and to get used to the conditions and enjoy the weather in San Diego, though she doesn’t think receiving byes helps her go deeper into tournaments.

The world’s former No. 1-ranked tennis player Jalena Jankovic talks to media before the start of the Mercury Insurance Open in Carlsbad. Photo by Tony Cagala

“It doesn’t matter if I start from the first round or from the second round,” she said. “It’s all in what I’m doing, how well I’m playing.”

After missing the Open tournament last year, Jankovic decided to play this year as a tune up for the summer Olympics. “I just want to play some more matches; I want to compete and then as soon as I’m done here I’m going to go to London for the Olympic Games,” Jankovic said.

Having a winning record (16-8) at Wimbledon where the Olympic matches will take place Jankovic said it will be unusual to see all of the colors of the countries worn by the players because of the all-white dress code normally associated with the famed court.

“It’s going to be a unique experience and I very much look forward to playing in the Olympic Games,” she said. Janokovic is very hopeful that she can add an Olympic medal to her already impressive amassing of trophies and awards.

She’s competed for her country in the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games, but only her native countryman Novak Djokovic has medaled, winning a bronze in the 2008 games in China.

Playing in the Olympics, she said, is something that you can’t compare to any other event. “The feeling that you get from being there, it’s amazing.”

At the end of the 2011 season Jankovic was ranked No. 14 in the world. In a span of seven years she’s climbed from a rank of 361 in 2001 to No. 1 in 2008. She held that ranking for a year before falling to No. 8 in 2009.

Her primary goal is always to keep improving her game, she said. “I was No. 1 in the world and that was something that I wanted to achieve so badly at the time, but now I don’t really think about rankings. I think about winning some big tournaments, and that’s something that I want to achieve…those are the goals that I set for myself, at this time.”

Jankovic won her match Thursday (2-6, 6-4, 6-4) against Melinda Czink. She next plays Friday afternoon against Yung-Jan Chan.

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