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Jankovic plans to shine brighter next season

Former world No. 1 hopes warm weather in Dubai can boost aim of top-10 finish by the end of 2017

Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News
Jelena Jankovic
Gulf News

Dubai: A season-ending No. 55 is not exactly what former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic would have expected. But, after a couple of weeks of warm Dubai weather and a strong resolve, the Serbian is targeting a top-10 finish in 2017.

Jankovic has been in Dubai enjoying the sun and slowly getting back into shape after two ruptures in her shoulder muscles temporarily derailed her season this year. The injury is now behind her, and she is gradually looking to gain ground on her opponents and make her way back, just like before, into the elite of women’s tennis.

“I will have no points to defend in 2017, so making my way to the top is going to be easier,” Jankovic told Gulf News at Skydive Dubai, where she was attending the Dubai Women’s Run last week.

“It’s easy to say this, but I know from past experiences how tough it is to actually put in the hard work and stay healthy to achieve goals that have been set,” she added.

After being laid down by the shoulder injury, Jankovic showed vintage form with a straight-set victory over top-10 player Garbine Muguruza to reach the third round of the Wuhan Open in China at the end of September. In the middle of October, she made it to the second round of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow where she went down in straight sets to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia.

“Perhaps, a major part of the season was unfortunate for me. But it has also given me a lot of time to think and reflect on how things are working out in my life,” Jankovic said.

“I have the game to play against the best players, and that gives me a lot of confidence as I set out my preparation programme for 2017. This is women’s tennis and things can be quite unpredictable. Look at how things have gone this year. We have a new world No. 1 and a new year-end champion in Singapore. That’s the beauty of our sport,” she added.

Now 31, the Serbian was at the top of the women’s game following her maiden appearance at the US Open final in 2008. She remained at the summit for 17 consecutive weeks until she was overtaken by American Serena Williams in February 2009. Jankovic has the distinction of being the year-end world No. 1 in 2008 — the second player in the history of the WTA to do this without winning a Grand Slam title, after Kim Clijsters.

“The plan right now is to slowly start preparing with getting my fitness back. Once the body is back into shape, then it will be time for workouts and start actual preparations on court in time for the starting tournaments of the new season,” she said.

“I don’t have points to defend in 2017, and if I play well and consistent, then I don’t see any reason why I cannot be back in the top-10 of women’s tennis,” Jankovic added.

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