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Super Serbs taking tennis world by storm

sports Updated: Jan 23, 2008 15:27 IST

AFP
Highlight Story

For a country in the grip of war barely 10 years ago and with a paucity of facilities, it seems astonishing that Serbia has produced any tennis players at all.

But a handful have climbed to the top and are threatening to make 2008 a year the Balkan nation claims the sport as its own, with three players in the Australian Open semi-finals.

Novak Djokovic, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic have all reinforced their credentials as future champions; players who can push tennis into the next era.

Jankovic beat defending champion Serena Williams to make the last four yesterday while Ivanovic sent sister Venus packing today, reinforcing a shift in the pecking order of the women's game.

Djokovic is also firing, crushing fifth seed David Ferrer today, while Janko Tipsarevic took undisputed world number one Roger Federer to five sets.

"It's amazing. I think it's great for our tennis and it's becoming one of the major sports back home, many kids are playing," said Ivanovic.

"It's just like a dream coming true."

Tennis stardom is not something totally new to Serbia as it was from there that Monica Seles emerged and put together one of the finest careers in women's tennis until she was stabbed in the back during a tournament in Hamburg.

But Seles, born in Novi Sad in an ethnic Hungarian community, turned her back on her country by taking US citizenship in 1994 and has become a resident in the United States.