Tennis-Ironwoman Jankovic to cut back on schedule

PERTH Sat Dec 29, 2007 7:25am GMT

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PERTH Dec 29 (Reuters) - World number three Jelena Jankovic has promised to cut back on her playing schedule in 2008 in an attempt to focus on the grand-slam events and avoid long-term injury.

The Serb played a WTA Tour-high 97 matches as she won four titles last season but struggled for fitness and form as the year progressed, with many feeling she was risking serious injury by playing too much.

"I can say that I played too much," Jankovic told reporters at the Hopman Cup on Saturday, the eight-nation mixed team event where she and Novak Djokovic will represent Serbia, the number one seeds.

"I had so many matches during the year, not much time off and it was difficult. I will cut back a little bit on my schedule and play a lot less and mainly focus on the big tournaments, the grand slams and Tier Ones."

The 22-year-old, who also won the mixed doubles at Wimbledon with Scot Jamie Murray, said she was still short of full fitness after having surgery on her nose in November to cure breathing problems.

"I was completely in bed for three weeks," Jankovic said.

"My only activity was going to the toilet and back.

"After lying there and feeling terrible, I wanted to do things. As an athlete we play a lot, we are active people, I couldn't accept just to be in bed the whole day."

Her recuperation meant that she began training a little later than she would have liked and Jankovic admitted it would take time to regain top form.

"I just practised for two weeks before I came here," she said. "I didn't have as much time as I wanted, but I will try my best to play some good matches and get match tough again.

"I don't have any expectations, I just want to play as many matches as possible and try to get back in form."

In the long run, though, Jankovic is confident she has the ability to win a grand-slam title.

"I want to keep improving some of the things in my game, just believing in myself and my time will come. Whichever (grand-slam title) comes first I wouldn't mind." (Editing by John O'Brien)

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