Jankovic enters semi-finals

New York, September 6 :

Jelena Jankovic lost so many matches in a row this year, she lost count. But she’d taken enough stats classes at university to figure this: It was maybe time to quit tennis and go back to school in Belgrade.

On Tuesday, Jankovic graduated — to her first Grand Slam semi-final, that is. She took away No 4 Elena Dementieva’s serve and coasted 6-2, 6-1 at the US Open. “I cannot believe that I won in two sets,” Jankovic said.

Shortly after she finished, rain began and play was called off for the day. At that point, seventh-seeded Nikolay Davydenko led No 17 Andy Murray 6-1, 5-7, 6-3 and 2000 US Open champion Marat Safin led Tommy Haas 2-1.

The 19th-seeded Serbian Jankovic became the first player to reach this year’s semi-finals at Flushing Meadows, and will face the winner of the match between Lindsay Davenport and Justine Henin-Hardenne.

The 21-year-old Jankovic posted the biggest victory of her career, winning every game when Dementieva served. Earlier this year, Jankovic wasn’t winning anything. She lost nine straight matches after the Australian Open and wondered what was next.

“Ten losses in a row, nine losses — how many, I don’t know,” she said. “It was terrible. I don’t know what was wrong with me. I didn’t have the will to practice, didn’t want to play.”

“It was something that I never felt before and I almost quit playing tennis. I just wanted to go and study.” Now, those courses in statistics, economics and politics can wait.”

At 24, Dementieva was mulling her future, too. “It is disappointing. I’m getting older and I haven’t won a Grand Slam, so that’s really what I’m thinking about all the time,” she said. “I feel like I was in good shape here. That’s why it’s sad.”

Dementieva let out a shriek midway through the second set when her shot hit the net tape, popped up and landed on her side. The sound echoed through Arthur Ashe Stadium, and she quietly exited a few games later. “She didn’t give me any chances,” Dementieva said. “She was better.” Jankovic said she’s had problems in the past with Dementieva’s slow, slicing serves. It was hard to tell this time, though.”