With a little stretch, Jelena Jankovic's victory Sunday in the women's singles final of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells could be turned into a California angle.
Headline: Local Woman Makes Good.
Jankovic, of course, is about as local as Antarctica. She has spent the bulk of her 25 years as far away from California as you can get. Not by choice, by coincidence of birth. She is Serbian and proud of it, although she lists her residence as Dubai, which is one of those tax havens to which rich tennis players gravitate.
But one of the fun topics this week has been Jankovic's excitement at building a home in the San Diego area.
She even told the crowd during the trophy ceremony, minutes after she had easily handled Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki, 6-2, 6-4, that she loved to play here and "soon California will be my home."
Earlier in the week, she said the home, in Rancho Santa Fe, will be 20,000 square feet, will have a swimming pool, a tennis court, a fitness center and a 10-car garage.
"I only have five now," she said a few days earlier.
Jankovic, whose paycheck for the Indian Wells title was $700,000, acknowledged that construction is progressing.
"Getting close to putting the roof on," she said.
There was no discussion of the tax differences between Dubai and California. She had just won what she called "The fifth-biggest tournament we have on the tour," so it would have been unfair to spoil her day. She'll be hearing from Governor Arnold soon enough.
Jankovic brightened the slightly overcast day with a lime green dress and a tangy baseline game. Playing against a relative newcomer in Wozniacki, 19, who made her most notable move into the women's tennis spotlight with an advance to the U.S. Open final last year, Jankovic dominated from the start.
"I really went out there, knowing my game plan," she said. "I wanted to be really aggressive, but at the same time patient and not go for too much."
While Wozniacki showed no weapons, other than a tendency to hit everything back and hope the other player crumbled, Jankovic went for selected shots, hit winners in bunches and ran out to a 4-0 lead in the first set.
Similarly, Jankovic broke Wozniacki's serve to open the second set, held for 2-0 and kept the edge to the end, getting the match point on her first try when Wozniacki hit an 87-mph serve well long.
Wozniacki, who can look to opponents like the Great Wall of China if they don't take some chances and go for winning shots, expressed some dismay at her inability to figure things out.
"She didn't make a lot of mistakes, and you know, I tried to do something," Wozniacki said. "I tried to change it when I saw it was not going my way, but, I mean, I just made a few too many errors at important points."
Interestingly, the match loser, Wozniacki, will move up to the No. 2 spot on the WTA ranking ladder, effective Monday. Points accumulated this week brought that about. She will replace the injured No. 2, Dinara Safina, who will drop to No. 3.
Jankovic, who was No. 1 for 18 weeks, starting Aug. 11, 2008, took over the No. 8 spot.
Serena Williams, of course, is No. 1. And a healthy Williams appears to be so much the class of the field at this point that the rest of the top 10, including sister Venus, need not even apply. But, as is the tendency in women's tennis, Williams is injured and will sit out the next big show, the Sony Ericsson in Miami the next two weeks.
That gives Jankovic, obviously playing well and motivated — remember those California taxes — a quick time frame to make a big move.
"I'm looking to do well in the big events," Jankovic said. "That is my goal now. I will try my best to achieve and not really think about ranking or whatever, just about my game and what I can do to get better."
Chances are, she will be thinking about other things, such as carpeting and kitchen cabinets and where to buy five more cars.