Struggling Jankovic to put best foot foward in Doha | sports | Hindustan Times
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Struggling Jankovic to put best foot foward in Doha

sports Updated: Oct 25, 2010 20:14 IST

From warm winter boots to ice-pick stilettos, Jelena Jankovic has stepped into the searing desert heat of Doha aiming to overcome ill health and poor form at the season-ending WTA Championships.

Given the tournament's reputation for pushing players beyond their limits, however, it would be no surprise if the Serb exits Qatar as one of the walking wounded.

Jankovic cut a forlorn figure at a media conference on Monday, her strained voice and subdued demeanour confirmation that all is not well with the former world number one.

The 25-year-old, who had strapped herself into a figure-hugging gown and high heels at the official tournament the previous evening, has exited the last two tournaments in China and Russia in the second round.

"I'm having some health problems, I have sinus problems," Jankovic croaked into the microphone.

"I was sick before I came to Moscow and I'm still not 100 percent. I'm not in the form I was in the first half of the season, but that's due to a lot of injuries. "I twisted my ankle and had back problems so that also resulted in not good preparation, not being able to practice as hard as I normally practice. That also affected my confidence."

Jankovic, who is drawn in the White Group alongside world number two Vera Zvonareva, Kim Clijsters and Victoria Azarenka, has not been helped by the drastic changes in climate she has experienced recently.

"I think for me it's a change, because I came from Serbia," said Jankovic, who is making her third appearance at the prestigious tournament, which moves to Istanbul from next year.

"I came from home, which was very cold. When I showed up here at the airport I was with my winter boots. I went outside and I was in shock. I was sweating and it was very hot.

"I was at home in Serbia and in Moscow, which was zero degrees and minus. So I'm white. You can see I have no tan."

Playing a round robin format in Qatar's oppressive weather takes a heavy toll on players, even though the matches are scheduled in the evening.

Jankovic hopes her past experience at the tournament will help her adapt quickly.

"I have to just try my best to adjust to this heat and the humidity. But I've been here in the past. I think whoever is going to be the fittest, whoever can survive in these kind of conditions, is going to do the best."

In the Maroon Group, world number one Caroline Wozniacki will face Elena Dementieva, Francesca Schiavone and Sam Stosur.

The $4.5 million tournament is reserved for the top eight players in the world, though Serena (ranked No.2) and Venus Williams (fifth) are missing due to injury.