LOS ANGELES // Jelena Jankovic's childhood ambition of topping the world rankings could be realised with victory at this week's Los Angeles Classic, but the injury-prone Serbian would love to embellish the feat with a grand slam win. "Since I was a young girl it's been my dream and every player's dream to become number one and by achieving that, you take the monkey off your back," said Jankovic ahead of the tournament at which she is the top seed.
"When you get older, at least one day you can say you were number one and no one can take that away from you. You are in history and it's a great achievement. "But I would also like to win a grand slam, to take that step forward and go to the next level." Jankovic, 23, has come close to topping the rankings before, falling in the semi-finals at the French Open last month to her compatriot Ana Ivanovic with the No1 spot on the line.
Up a break in a deciding third set, the match seemed there for the taking, but Ivanovic fought back to go and win and take the title. "She was the better player," Jankovic admitted. "It was a couple of points either way. She played a couple points where a big forehand went in rather than going out. It was her time, maybe mine will come later." The world No2 has only managed four days of practice since tearing the meniscus in her left knee at Wimbledon last month and, although she has made a remarkable recovery, the Serb is still struggling to regain her famed agility.
She is planning to peak at next month's Beijing Olympics, or the US Open, but insists her knee has to heal fully before she can make a strong run. "The doctor told me that I was going to be out for a couple of months," Jankovic said. "I don't know how I'm back on court already. It's surprising. "At first, I couldn't go up stairs, I couldn't wear heels, it was frustrating but it's healing quite fast."
Jankovic said that the muscle around the affected area was still weak, so she was treating the Los Angeles tournament more as a warm-up than a stand-alone event that she believes she could win. "It is shaking," she said of the knee."I try to move and my leg kind of collapses. I'm a little scared when I have to run for certain balls because I can break something and be out a really long time." This year, Jankovic has reduced her schedule in order to lessen the wear and tear on her body, but she says that that last year, when she played more than 100 matches, she felt healthier.
"This is how life goes - you cannot predict anything," she said. "There is a no right or wrong way. I have had so many problems with my health this year that it's amazing I'm still number two." * Reuters