Jankovic sees off wildcard

2012-06-13 15:56

Birmingham - Former world No 1 Jelena Jankovic staved off a bee and two set points in a 6-1, 7-6 (7/3) win over British wildcard Melanie South to reach the Aegon Classic last 16 on Wednesday.

Jankovic's world-class groundstrokes showed their brilliance when she saved two set points from 4-5, 15-40 - just as they did when she defeated Maria Sharapova to win the title here five years ago.

"That was the last time I was here, so I would love to win it again," said Jankovic, the extrovert Serb who is fighting her way back from a nasty thigh muscle tear in February and slipping outside the top 20.

"I think my taste is changing because I actually do like grass and I never used to. I hit the ball pretty flat and I have the game to do well on it."

Asked if that game is good enough to win Wimbledon or the Olympics, Jankovic answered, "We will see. I don't want to speak too far ahead, but there's no reason why I can't do well."

The bee bothered her not long after Jankovic played a bad service game and, trailing 4-2 in the second set, seemed ready to receive South's first service of the seventh game.

Instead, she suddenly darted towards the back stop, calling out "Wait, wait, wait." South then double-faulted.

The home hope went on to lose that service game, enabling Jankovic to climb back to parity at 4-4, though there was no question that the former champion's consistently rhythmic returning and counter-hitting made her a deserved winner.

Jankovic also displayed important improvements in the weight and placement of her serve, and may be further helped by the exit of the seed in her quarter, Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic.

Her bid to regain the title should, according to the seedings, see her play a quarter-final against Francesca Schiavone, the top-seeded former French Open champion, though the Italian is not a top-class exponent of grass tennis.

Meanwhile, two more seeds went out, bringing the total to four so far. The sixth-seeded German, Mona Barthel, went down 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 to Andrea Hlavackova, a Czech ranked only just inside the top 100, while the seventh-seeded American, Christina McHale, lost 6-1, 1-6, 7-5 to Elena Vesnina, a Russian ranked down in the 80s but good enough on grass to have reached the fourth round of Wimbledon.