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Happy ending in sight as fortune favours Jankovic

DOHA (Reuters) - One of the toughest years of her career could still have a golden finale for Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic who now stands just two victories away from winning the WTA Championships and a $1.5 million jackpot.

Serbia's Jelena Jankovic hits a return to Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their WTA Tour Championships tennis match in Doha October 30, 2009. REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad

The 24-year-old appeared ready to head for the airport on Tuesday when she turned in a limp performance in her opening group match against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus after which Jankovic gloomily said she was a shadow of her former self.

After getting lucky on Wednesday when Russian Dinara Safina withdrew early in their match with a back injury, the cards fell nicely in her favour again on Friday.

Danish opponent Caroline Wozniacki was clearly suffering physically after her exploits of the previous day when she beat Vera Zvonareva in a near three-hour battle that left her barely able to walk at the end after being seized with cramp.

Jankovic took full advantage, producing some aggressive tennis from the baseline and at the net to run out a 6-2 6-2 winner and reach the semi-finals of the Championships for the second consecutive year.

JANKOVIC OPTIMISTIC

This after her very participation in the elite eight-player field was in doubt right up until the 11th hour as she battled for ranking points last week in Moscow.

“I was really disappointed after my first loss (to Azarenka) and I was a little bit harsh on myself because my tennis was really awful and I was frustrated,” Jankovic told reporters.

“But the good thing about this competition is not how you begin, it’s how you end it. I just regrouped and kept myself positive and optimistic and here I am, I’m in the semis.”

Whatever happens in the next two days, Jankovic said the past 12 months have given her a more balanced perspective.

“It was a tough year overall. Many things have happened on and off the court. I had a lot of injuries, some personal problems, a death in my family,” she said.

“It’s really hard sometimes to be focused on tennis and to only think about the game. And after those things happen, you realise that tennis is just a sport, and you don’t need to take it so seriously. I try to go with a smile on my face.

“So I’m really happy after all that I was able to make it to the Championships here, to such a prestigious event, and that I gave myself an opportunity to go far in this tournament and to play with the best players in the world.”

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris

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