Jelena Jankovic back for good, after fearing career's end

Jelena Jankovic back for good, after fearing career's end

During the two months late last year that Jelena Jankovic suffered through a painful back injury, she struggled to clean her teeth and put on her shoes, and was barely able to walk. Indeed, the 29-year-old wondered if her career was over.

"I thought this maybe could be the end of my career," sixth seeded Jankovic said after Sunday's straight sets loss to wildcard Ajla Tomljanovic at the Brisbane International.

"I thought this maybe could be the end of my career": Jelena Jankovic.

"I thought this maybe could be the end of my career": Jelena Jankovic.Credit:AFP

"It was really bad. Just when you are injured and you have a bad back injury, you're thinking maybe you're never going to be able to play again at a high level. Just kept doing therapies. I was just trying to recover. And I did.

"It's just a matter of just kind of feeling comfortable out there and just competing without having anything on your mind. Just going out there and enjoying, and just with time get better, stronger, and get match tough again ... I have to train again and just hopefully be ready for Melbourne and play there a lot better."

Unhappy with her serve, Jankovic was unable to convert either of her two chances to close out the opening set tiebreak, and fell away badly as she failed to win a game in set two. But it was her first match in three months, and not so long after she said her extended period of inactivity turned her muscles to "jelly".

"Then when I saw myself in the mirror a month ago I was like, 'Oh, my God. You know I got to do some work', so I think I've improved a lot. With that all said, I still need to do a lot of work to get where I want to be. I'm not really thinking about rankings. I'm just happy that I'm playing, that I'm back on the tennis court and competing."

When the men's draw starts on Monday, South Australian wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis will open against experienced Frenchman Julien Benneteau, with the 18-year-old keen to put into practice lessons learnt from a pre-season stint training with Roger Federer in Dubai. Sydney's James Duckworth also plays a seed, No.6 Gilles Simon, and Bernard Tomic meets American Sam Querrey.

Linda Pearce is the Chief Tennis Writer and general sports reporter for The Age. She writes about a range of sports, including football, netball, and gymnastics. Linda has twice been named Australian tennis writer of the year.

Most Viewed in Sport