INTERVIEW-Tennis-Jankovic determined to break Henin jinx

BANGALORE, India, March 5 Wed Mar 5, 2008 7:13am GMT

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BANGALORE, India, March 5 (Reuters) - Serbia's Jelena Jankovic is confident she can break her 0-9 losing streak against Justine Henin and seriously challenge the Belgian world number one this year.

The 23-year-old Jankovic, ranked fourth in the world, had a breakthrough 2007 in which she won four tour titles, reached four other finals and the French Open semi-final.

She also reached the Australian Open semi-finals in January, but is yet to beat Henin, who has won all nine of their meetings.

"Last year, almost the whole year, I was number two in the race and number three in the rankings," Jankovic told Reuters.

"So I was very close, and the player who was in front of me was Justine Henin.

"She was the better one, I beat everybody else last year except her," she said in an interview at the Bangalore Open, where she is top seed.

"(But) this year is a new year, and everything starts from the beginning, from zero."

The powerful Serbian beat American multiple grand slam winner Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarter-finals before falling to Russia's Maria Sharapova.

TARGETING SLAM

Jankovic wants to play fewer tournaments in 2008 to prepare herself better for a first grand slam victory and also wants to find a good travelling coach.

"These are the best years of my career coming up. I just turned 23, I am more mature and I've some experience on the tour.

"The last year was a great year for me, I finished number three in the world. Hopefully this year I can have a better year.

"I think my time will come sooner or later, I think I have the potential to do that," she said.

"Being three times in the semi-finals, I hope to add new things to my game, keep improving and hopefully I'll do it," said the Serb, who also reached the last four at the 2006 U.S. Open.

Jankovic played 97 singles matches last year, but the busy schedule took its toll on her fitness, leading to injury-related retirements at tournaments.

"I'll try and do that (cut down matches) this year," she said. "Last year was a good learning experience. I never played that much in my entire career. And I won so many matches. This I don't think I can keep up so much."

Jankovic said she was struggling to find a suitable coach.

"I was in a trial period with a coach," she said. "I am still looking for a good coach because I believe that will really help me achieve my full potential.

"All the good coaches are already taken or the ones who are not, maybe they don't want to travel," she said. "It's very, very difficult."

(Editing by N.Ananthanarayanan)

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