Tennis-Jankovic back on track after beating 'laziness'

Reuters

Thu, 18 Aug 02:08:00 2011

Former world number one Jelena Jankovic blamed laziness, in part, for her slide down the world rankings but said she was now back on track and determined to return to the top.

Serb Jankovic beat China's Zheng Jie 4-6 6-3 6-1 on Wednesday to move into the third round of the Cincinnati Open, where she will meet Italian Francesca Schiavone, as she looks to improve on her 14th ranking.

The 26-year-old from Belgrade, who has yet to win a grand slam, said she believed she had the potential to be even better than she was in 2008 and 2009 when she sat atop the rankings -- especially now she had the right attitude to practice.

"You know, I can be even better than I ever was: that's my goal. I still have a lot of things to prove, not just to other people, but to myself. That's why I play this game. I still enjoy it.

"The most important thing I enjoy is competing. I'm not too crazy about practising, and sometimes I wish I could just go and compete, because I always have been a good competitor.

"But in order to compete well and do well in tournaments, you've got to put a lot hours of training, even though I'm talented and all of that. You can't do it without hard work.

"So there were times when I was kind of being lazy and stuff like that, but now I'm back on track. I really am working hard again, and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to come back to the top again," she said.

Jankovic said her movement on court remained a work-in-progress, however.

"When I was number one, I was maybe moving better than I am now. But I think I'm starting to move good again, so I don't want to put myself down and say that I'm not moving well.

"I think my serve is better maybe than when I was world number one. But I think overall, you know, it has as well to do with the confidence and motivation and a lot of other things, not just the tennis game.

"So with all that said, your game can kind of fall apart at times when you don't feel 100 percent motivated or you don't really have the confidence, you haven't played many matches and all that."

Jankovic also had words of encouragement for current world number one Caroline Wozniacki, who has been out of form ahead of the U.S. Open starting Aug. 29.

Long under pressure to prove her top-ranked status with grand slam success, Wozniacki was dumped out of the second round of the Cincinnati Open by 19-year-old American Christina McHale.

"In my opinion, I don't think she should feel any pressure. She has achieved quite a lot, especially at a young age," said Jankovic.

"She will have a long career, and she still has a lot a lot of time ahead of her to prove herself and to do whatever she wants to do in her career.

"Maybe in this moment she's having a bit of a hard time to get into her rhythm and get the confidence.

"It happens to everybody. It's not like she's the only one or I'm the only one. That's part of the sport. It's just a matter of how you get back and how you ... move from there and try to get better next time."

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