HONG KONG: World number one Jelena Jankovic pulled out of the Hong Kong World Team Challenge with flu on Saturday, throwing her Australian Open preparations into disarray.
The Serbian, who came into the tournament looking for vital match practice ahead of the year's opening Grand Slam, said she had been struggling throughout the exhibition tournament.
Jankovic, who is still looking for her first Grand Slam crown, played just one singles match here when she was thumped 6-2, 6-2 by Venus Williams.
The 23-year-old said she was flying to Melbourne later Saturday ahead of the start of the Australian Open on January 19. She has no other matches scheduled before the tournament starts.
Her withdrawal from the Hong Kong event, which features teams from Russia, Europe, the Americas and Asia-Pacific, leaves her desperately short of match practice after playing only one singles and one doubles match this year.
Jankovic, captain of the European team here, admitted after her loss to Williams that she was rusty and still coming to terms with her new body shape after fitness and strengthening work during the close season.
Last year she reached the final of the US Open as well as the semi-finals of the Australian Open and the French Open.
In the last day of the Hong Kong tournament Saturday, top seeds Russia are locked at 1-1 with the Americas in the best-of-five gold group final.