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Jankovic looking for 1st major title

sports Updated: Dec 19, 2008 19:25 IST

AP
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After finishing the season as the world's top-ranked tennis player, Jelena Jankovic is ready to concentrate on winning her first Grand Slam title in 2009.

The 23-year-old Serb, who reached the US Open final this year and also made the semifinals at the Australian and French Opens, first took over the No. 1 ranking on Aug. 11, and then again ascended to that height on October 6. She has held the top ranking for a total of 12 weeks.

"My priorities will be on the big tournaments, Grand Slams and Tier 1s," Jankovic said Thursday in a conference call. "When you prepare 100 per cent, when you put all the hard work in, then you can really have higher expectations and you can expect yourself to achieve great things."

Last season, Jankovic won more matches (65) than any other woman on the WTA Tour, claiming titles in Rome, Beijing, Stuttgart and Moscow in the 22 tournaments she played. But she said injuries bothered her for much of the season, and that's why she has already started working out to prepare for next season.

"I'm really training hard," said Jankovic, who started training in November and is currently practicing in Florida. "Before I came here I was in Mexico in high altitude ... trying to get stronger and fitter."

On Wednesday, Jankovic and top-ranked Rafael Nadal were honored as the International Tennis Federation's world champions of 2008. But for 2009, Jankovic expects to go about her season differently, easing her schedule in order to stay healthy.

"What matters is how fit you are, how well you prepare," said Jankovic, who admitted she was only injury-free for a major tournament this year at the U.S. Open, where she lost to Serena Williams in the final. "Last year in December, I didn't have a good preparation before the new season. I only trained two weeks before the Australian Open.

"When you're not ready, when you're not prepared, when you're not fit and playing at a high level ... you're going to have a high risk of getting injured."

As the top-ranked player, Jankovic is also going to have to deal with others trying to prove themselves by beating her. "I want the girls to play their best tennis against me and I want to win in those circumstances. I'm up for the challenge," Jankovic said. "I want to compete in those best tournaments with the best players out there."

As for simply being on top of the world of women's tennis, Jankovic is relishing that happenstance, too.

"I love being in that role, being in the role of the No. 1 player in the world. I like that position and I want to stay there as long as it is possible," Jankovic said. "I haven't trained in my whole career as hard as I'm training now, and I hope and I believe that all this hard work will pay off."

Jankovic also hinted that she would continue playing in the Fed Cup for Serbia, which hosts Japan in the first round of World Group II in February.

"I am a huge patriot," said Jankovic, who helped Serbia advance from the zonal group in 2008. "I love playing for my country and defending the colors of my flag."