2017 Season Review: Jelena Jankovic endures through horrendous year

Jelena Jankovic had a disappointing 2017 after she managed to win just six WTA main draw matches throughout an injury-filled year.

2017 Season Review: Jelena Jankovic endures through horrendous year
Everything went downfall for Jelena Jankovic after the Australian Open | Photo: Jack Thomas/Getty Images AsiaPac

Former world number one Jelena Jankovic was able to keep her place inside the top-60 at the start of 2017 with some impressive performances in the previous year, however, she experienced a massive dip in the rankings after enduring through an extremely poor year, dropping to an all-time low ranking of 160, her lowest since 2003.

Win-loss record: Forgettable year for the Serbian

It has been a forgettable year for Jankovic, who amassed a shell-shocking 6-19 win-loss record in WTA main draw matches. With reference to the Tennis Abstract website, the Serbian’s numbers were red in all aspects: win-loss record in general, in deciding sets, at Grand Slams, on hard courts, grass courts, and clay courts. Arguably, this could have been the worst year Jankovic has ever experienced throughout her career.

Jelena Jankovic reaches out for a shot at the Australian Open | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images AsiaPac
Jelena Jankovic reaches out for a shot at the Australian Open | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images AsiaPac

Furthermore, Jankovic was only able to earn back-to-back main draw victories at just one solitary tournament all year round. In terms of rankings, the former world number one’s best win of the year came against Laura Siegemund while her worst defeat was in the hands of Petra Krejsova. Jankovic also failed to make the quarterfinals at any events.

High Points of the season: Decent Australian Open

Jankovic won her first matches of the year at the Australian Open, and they were rather excellent. Turning out to be two of her six victories, the Serbian exacted revenge on Laura Siegemund with an impressive three-set hustle which saw her recover from a dramatic mid-match wobble to triumph. Another great win followed, this time over the in-form Julia Goerges, who went on to end the year inside the top-20, grabbing the victory in straight sets.

Jelena Jankovic celebrates winning a point against Kuznetsova in Melbourne | Photo: Jack Thomas/Getty Images AsiaPac
Jelena Jankovic celebrates winning a point against Kuznetsova in Melbourne | Photo: Jack Thomas/Getty Images AsiaPac

A match which could have totally changed Jankovic’s year was her third-round match against fellow veteran and a familiar foe in Svetlana Kuznetsova. She produced a magnificent comeback from 3-6, 1-4 down, and opened a commanding 3-0 lead in the deciding set before falling 7-9 after a marathon three-hour, 36-minutes of play. Who knows what would have happened if Jankovic converted her chances and reached the second week in Melbourne? Well, we certainly knew what happened after she just came up short in that match.

Despite being the world number 50, Jankovic still had to qualify for the main draw at the Qatar Total Open. Her poor run did not continue, though, as she rattled off three consecutive wins over several quality players, most notably Tsvetana Pironkova. However, her run still ended in the first round of the main draw, coming up second best against the in-form Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Jankovic went on to win just four matches through the remainder of the year.

Jelena Jankovic in action at the Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championships | Photo: Tom Dulat/Getty Images Europe
Jelena Jankovic in action at the Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championships | Photo: Tom Dulat/Getty Images Europe

Low Points of the season: Disappointing season for Jankovic

Being ranked 54th at the start of the year, Jankovic only had her luck to blame for her tough draws. She chose to participate at the Shenzhen Open in the opening week, but the Serbian was drawn to face world number four Simona Halep in the first-round. Despite putting up a tough fight and leading by a break in the deciding set, Jankovic was ultimately defeated in three sets. Her preparation for the Australian Open could have definitely been better as she entered Melbourne on a two-match losing streak, with her second loss coming against eventual finalist Monica Niculescu at the Hobart International.

Jankovic was involved in a three-set hustle against Kurumi Nara in the opening round of the Taiwan Open and failed to convert multiple of her opportunities as the Serbian was ultimately conquered in three thrilling sets. Another disappointing defeat came at the Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championships, this time falling to wildcard Mona Barthel.

Jelena Jankovic missed a couple of opportunities to grab several wins throughout the year | Photo: Harry How/Getty Images North America
Jelena Jankovic missed a couple of opportunities to grab several wins throughout the year | Photo: Harry How/Getty Images North America

The North American hard court swing was a golden opportunity for Jankovic to improve her ranking, but yet she blew the big opportunity after exiting early on both occasions. Her BNP Paribas Open campaign was decent, having led 6-1, 4-1 against Venus Williams in her second-round match and looked poised for a comfortable and confidence-boosting victory. Unexpectedly, she lost the plot from there, wasting a match point and was ultimately bageled in the final set by the eventual quarterfinalist. Her Miami Open campaign did not even last a day, after being ousted by Yaroslava Shvedova in the opening round.

The clay-court season was equally as disastrous for Jankovic, who failed to reach expectations. Even on her best-performing surface, the former world number one continued to produce disappointing performances while missing out on her chances. She only managed to grab wins at the Volvo Car Open and the Internazionali BNL D’Italia but never seemed to get going throughout the period in time.

Jelena Jankovic suffered a first-round exit in Wimbledon, at the hands of Agnieszka Radwanska | Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images Europe
Jelena Jankovic suffered a first-round exit in Wimbledon, at the hands of Agnieszka Radwanska | Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images Europe

Grass was the only surface which Jankovic managed to hoist a Major trophy (Mixed Doubles title at Wimbledon in 2007), but she had to endure through a poor three-match losing streak on the surface, being outclassed by qualifier Petra Krejsova in S’ Hertogenbosch, Caroline Garcia in Mallorca and Agnieszka Radwanska at Wimbledon.

Her last win of the year came in Nanchang, where she was upset in the second round by local favorite and qualifier Lu Jing-jing, being defeated in three sets by the world number 272. A back injury forced her to retire in her opening match at the Citi Open, but it was a first-round exit at the US Open to eventual quarterfinalist Petra Kvitova which ultimately ended her forgettable season.

Jelena Jankovic in action during her last match of the year at the US Open | Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images North America
Jelena Jankovic in action during her last match of the year at the US Open | Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images North America

She eventually fell to the 160th spot in the rankings having skipped the Asian Swing and undergoing a back surgery in October, and she confirmed that she would skip the 2018 Australian Open and most likely return at Indian Wells or Miami with a protected ranking of 60. This will end her consecutive Grand Slam appearances at 57, the third-longest streak for any women in history.

Season Grade: D

It was a disastrous 12 months for Jankovic, and certainly, she would look to return from her injury better than ever. Though a back injury may just potentially end her career, the Serbian did not confirm any rumors and should be looking to come back with a Protected Ranking next year.