Kuala Lumpur - Former world No 1 Jelena Jankovic scraped through the opening round of the BMW Malaysian Open on Tuesday, barely beating Caroline Garcia of France in a hard-fought three-set thriller.
Jankovic, second seed in the tournament, had to slog for nearly three hours before pulling off a 7-6 (9/7), 4-6, 7-6 (7/2) victory over 17-year-old Garcia, who fell apart towards the end.
Rain interrupted the game several times, with Jankovic of Serbia saying she slogged to play in the humid weather after only two days of training in Malaysia.
"I was down and almost lost the match... But I managed to stay tough and mentally strong in the last set," Jankovic, who turned 27 on Tuesday, said.
"I didn’t know what to expect when I was drawn to play her," she said about Garcia.
"All the credit goes to her for this match. She’s young and had nothing to lose. She came out strong and was pushing me as well."
The heavy rain also played havoc with the scheduling, with the top seed Agnieszka Radwanska's match against Akgul Amanmuradova postponed to Wednesday.
Earlier, eighth seed Anne Keothavong of Britain was sent crashing out of the tournament when Taiwan's Su-Wei Hsieh defeated her 6-4, 7-5.
The British star wasn't happy with several line calls and rain interruptions, which affected her performance.
"It was pretty disappointing out there as I had to play through difficult circumstances, and I'm not happy about it," the 28-year-old said.
"Well, I'm glad I still have the doubles. I enjoy playing the doubles and this is my first time partnering Elena Bovina (of Russia). I hope I can play better than I did in the singles," she said.
Keothavong was not the only star to fall in the first round as crowd favourite Sania Mirza of India lost in three games to Greece's Eleni Daniilidou, who won 6-2, 1-6, 6-4.
Mirza, who has fallen to No 129 in the latest world rankings, blamed fatigue and a fever for her loss.
"I was tired from the very beginning to be honest," Mirza said.
Daniilidou will meet fourth seed Jarmila Gajdosova in the second round.
"The draw is not easy, but I've heard that Jarmila has been struggling lately. I've never played Jarmila so I can't say much," Daniilidou said.
The $220 000 BMW Malaysian Open at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian and Country Resort will end on Sunday.