Fed Cup 2009, Serbia reaches the World Group of the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas for the first time



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Monday April 27, 2009


Fed Cup 2009, Serbia reaches the World Group of the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas for the first time

The celebrations said it all. Jelena Jankovic leapt into the arms of her captain, Dejan Vranes, after clinching the match-winning victory on Sunday that secured history for her country as it reached the World Group of the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas for the first time.

After three years of battling among the lower levels of the competition, the 4-0 win over Spain in the small university city of Lleida put Serbia into the elite of women’s tennis, exactly where it belongs.

But even as the team celebrated its victory with a lap of honour around the stadium court at the Club de Tennis, Lleida, the players were already turning their attention to bigger and brighter things.

Serbia’s dream comes true

“It’s been our dream to get in the World Group,” said Ana Ivanovic, whose opening-day win over the Spanish No. 1 Anabel Medina Garrigues did a lot to quell any thoughts five-time champion and last year's runner-up Spain may have had of an upset win.

“After a couple of years of hard work and going through lower groups, it finally happened. We are all very excited about it and I think we have a team that can win the Fed Cup one day.”

Ivanovic confident

With Jankovic and Ivanovic both ranked well inside the Top 10 and bidding for Grand Slam honours, Serbia has a side that is a match for anyone in the competition. Perhaps only Russia and the United States could field a team with two singles players of equal prowess and Ivanovic believes Serbia could even go on to win it at the first time of asking.

“We are at the top of our games now,” she said of herself and Jankovic. “Obviously there are so many good teams who if they are at their (best) have dangerous opponents, but Jelena and I have won against most of these players.

“Obviously Fed Cup is different but I still think we have to go in with this confidence to any match we play.”

Happy day for Jankovic

Jankovic’s two singles wins also gave her a small piece of history as she now holds the record for the most singles wins for Serbia in the competition with 20. The world No. 4 had set them on the way with a straight-sets win over Maria-Jose Martinez on day one, despite the effects of a cold that affected her throughout the weekend.

On Sunday, she held off a courageous performance from Medina, winning 63 36 63 to seal the victory for Serbia and bring a smile to her face after what has been a difficult few months.

Her mother, Snezana Jankovic, was unable to travel much earlier in the year because of some health problems and Jelena admitted she had been finding it hard to concentrate on the tennis court.

“I worry so much about her, it puts you down as well, when you go on the court and your head is not free and you are not happy, I can’t play my best tennis,” Jankovic said. “When I don’t have a smile on my face I am not the same player. It was great to have her here, I always love to have her here.”

Vranes congratulates team

Vranes said Jankovic’s performances had been little short of heroic over the weekend. “She was unbelievable. She is such a big fighter. She couldn’t breathe but she won two matches.

“And for Ana it was her first match on clay for almost one year and that was a little bit of pressure for her. But I would like to congratulate all my players because they fight like I expected and they fulfilled our goal. We finally reached the World Group.”

Time for Spain to rebuild

Spain won the title five times in the heyday of Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario and Conchita Martinez, but now finds itself in the second tier of the competition for the first time. Captain Miguel Margets admitted his side faced a tough task to get back into the elite World Group.

“I am not happy because we lost, but at the same time I am satisfied with the way (Medina and Martinez) tried,” he said. “When you play two players who have been No. 1 in the recent past, it is very very hard.

“We must start now, to try to be again in the World Group. It’s not easy, we know there are only eight teams. Every time the quality goes higher and higher so we must work hard from now on.”

For the record, world No. 234 Ana Jovanovic made the final score 4-0 with a 36 63 76(6) win over Martinez. The Spanish combination of Nuria Llagostera and Lourdes Dominguez were leading Jovanovic and 16-year-old Aleksandra Krunic 62 10 in the doubles when rain forced the tie to end prematurely.

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