Ivanovic and Jankovic heading home after 2nd round exits in Australia

Serbia’s men hold the Davis Cup and it was not so long ago that their women were also threatening to rule the world. Ana Ivanovic, French Open champion in 2008 and three times a Grand Slam finalist, and Jelena Jankovic, beaten in the US Open final the same year, both had spells on top of the world rankings. After two rounds of this year’s Australian Open, however, both are on their way home.

Following Ivanovic’s first-round exit, Jankovic fell at the second hurdle here today, losing 7-6, 6-3 to Peng Shuai, who maintained China’s excellent recent record at a tournament now billed as “The Grand Slam of the Asia/Pacific”. Jankovic, the first top 10 seed to fall at the year’s opening Grand Slam event, blamed poor shot selection for her defeat, but in truth the 2008 semi-finalist was outplayed in almost every department.

Jankovic had a reputation for consistency, having reached the semi-finals or better at five out of nine Grand Slam tournaments beginning with the 2006 US Open, but in recent times the only constant in her game has been the regularity with which she has been losing matches. Having ended last year with five successive defeats, today’s setback followed a first-round exit in Sydney last week. In her last nine Grand Slam tournaments Jankovic has failed to go beyond the fourth round only once.

After a chilly and often gloomy start to the tournament, blue skies and rising temperatures brought conditions back to what the players usually expect at Melbourne Park. Jankovic quickly warmed to her task and led 4-1 in the first set, only to lose her way.

The 25-year-old Serb eventually forced a first set tie-break by breaking Peng’s serve for the third time, but she was unable to maintain her level thereafter. Peng, who only narrowly beat the British teenager Heather Watson in Auckland a fortnight ago, won the tie-break 7-3 and went on to take command of the second set by breaking in the sixth game. Jankovic racked up 39 unforced errors.

“I was leading 4?1 and had everything under my control,” Jankovic said afterwards. “I was playing pretty well. But then I just had some loose errors and she played some good points. Little by little she was gaining momentum and I started completely going down, especially in that tie-breaker.”

The major consolation for Jankovic is that she feels free of the physical problems that have dogged her over the last two years, including an ankle injury at the end of last year. She also had eye surgery during the off season.

“It’s really important for me now that I'm healthy, that I can really compete out there,” she said. “Now I just have to continue to work hard and work on my game and really build on my confidence. Hopefully I will get more matches in the future and just keep getting better.

“I really feel good physically. I'm healthy. I can really be on the court and enjoy myself out there. It's the beginning of the season, only my third match of the year. I'm still rusty. I just have to get match tough again and play right in the important times of the match. That was the case today. I just made a wrong selection of shots at important moments of the match, and that cost me. At the end my opponent took her opportunities.”

Peng, who was all smiles at the end, now plays Japan’s Ayumi Morita, who beat Caroline Garcia, of France, 6-4, 6-4. Her fellow countrywoman, Li Na, a semi-finalist here last year, is also through to the third round, though Zheng Jie, who also reached the last four 12 months ago, pulled out of the tournament with a wrist injury.

Kim Clijsters, the favourite to win the title here, followed up her 6-0, 6-0 win over Dinara Safina with a comprehensive 6-1, 6-3 defeat of Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro, who beat Venus Williams at this stage of the tournament two years ago..

”She’s a tough player,” Clijsters said. “She's tricky. The balls bounced so differently compared with my first round. “I was just happy with the way that I played. I tried to play both sides of the court, tried to be aggressive and dictate the points - and it worked.”

Clijsters’ previous best performance here was a run to the final in 2004. The 27-year-old Belgian has also made the semi-finals on four other occasions, though she suffered one of her worst losses on her return to Melbourne Park 12 months ago after an absence of three years, losing 6-0, 6-1 to Nadia Petrova in the third round. It was her heaviest loss in a Grand Slam tournament.

The world No 3 said she had put the defeat behind here. “I don't think I've ever played a match like that, so it was very easy in a way to forget about it,” she said.

Clijsters now plays Alize Cornet, who beat the No 26 seed, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, of Spain, 7-5, 6-1. Cornet reached No 11 in the world rankings two years ago but had a poor 2010, going out in the first round of all four Grand Slam tournaments. The 20-year-old Frenchwoman last reached the third round of a Grand Slam event here two years ago.

i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower