The wider sporting world will probably know Jovanovski as the girl with the terrible grasp of geography (or the terrible travel agent). When the Serbian travelled to the San Diego Open last summer, she flew into the wrong Carlsbad – she was in a desert town in New Mexico when she would have been in California – and so was 900 miles away from where she should have been. After catching a flight early the next morning, she arrived at the venue just half an hour before her first-round match, which she lost. It had been a very confused phone-call from the arrivals hall at Carlsbad airport. “The tournament transport staff said they were at the airport and were looking for me,” she recalled, “and I said I was the only person there.” It is fortunate that Jovanovski is a better tennis player than she is a traveller of the world, and she had been showing that there is more to Serbian women’s tennis than Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic.
Thank Venus Williams – the reason that Keys first played tennis was because, aged four years old, she remarked how stylish the Californian looked in a tennis dress. Keys, who says on her personal website “if I didn’t play tennis, I would like to have my own bakery”, idolises Roger Federer. Keys won her place in the Australian Open through a wild-card play-off for Americans. The better she does in Melbourne, the closer she would be to realising one of her dreams – owning a BMW.
Some would say that Andy Murray jinxed the French teenager with his mid-match tweet at Roland Garros last season. Playing at her first French Open, Garcia led Maria Sharapova by a set and 4-1 in their second-round match, and Murray was so impressed that he predicted on Twitter that the girl was a future world number one. Unfortunately for Garcia, Sharapova regained her poise on the clay, and from that 1-4 deficit, won the next 11 games.
“A bit of a nerd” is how the 15-year-old Australian describes herself, on account of the computer games and DVDs that were on her Christmas wish-list. Others regard her as an extremely-gifted tennis player, one who will make her grand slam debut at the Australian Open after she won the wild-card play-off. “I’ll probably go out there and play some horrendous tennis, and be nervous, but I’ll just go out and have some fun. I don’t really want to think about it too much before then. I’ll probably just keep to myself in the locker-room, just keep to myself and hide from everyone.”
For Watson, reaching the second round of last season’s French Open was “happy land”; she was the first British woman for 17 years to win a main-draw match at Roland Garros, and the result also propelled her into the top 100 for the first time. The girl from the Channel Islands, a former junior US Open champion, also turned in a fine performance at the US Open, where, on her first appearance on the Arthur Ashe Stadiu, she tormented Maria Sharapova. She will remember 2011 for those matches. not for the occasion she lost to Laura Robson at a tournament in Barnstaple.
It was in Cincinnati last summer that McHale announced herself to the tennis world, when she won a second-round encounter with Caroline Wozniacki. An American teenager had not defeated the world number one since Serena Williams bumped Martina Hingis out of the 2001 US Open. Just a couple of weeks later, the 19-year-old from New Jersey had another big win when she beat Marion Bartoli, a former Wimbledon finalist, to reach the third round of the US Open (she lost her next match to Maria Kirilenko).