Jankovic and Djokovic hit form at Open

World number one Jelena Jankovic and men’s defending champion Novak Djokovic showed glimpses of their best form as they marched into the Australian Open third round on Wednesday.

They were joined by fellow Serb Ana Ivanavic, third seed Dinara Safina and her brother Marat Safin, who is likely to face Roger Federer next up.

The top-seeded Jankovic battled past Belgian Kirsten Flipkens 6-4, 7-5 as she upped the ante in her quest for a maiden Grand Slam.

“It’s good to have someone push you so you know what you have to work on when you step back on the practice court,” said Jankovic, who will play Japanese veteran Ai Sugiyama on Friday.

Djokovic dismissed Jeremy Chardy of France 7-5, 6-1, 6-3 in impressive style and appears to be hitting form after a slow start to the season and occasional lapses in his opening match here against Italian qualifier Andrea Stoppini.

“I feel very nice and comfortable on this court,” he said. “The first round was tricky; I didn’t play such great tennis, but today was another story.

“Hopefully it can get better in the next match.”

Third seed Safina recovered from a slow start to dominate fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-0 while fifth seed Ivanovic overcame early nerves to crush Alberta Brianti of Italy 6-3, 6-2.

The two women, who could meet in the last eight, were joined in the next round by 10th seed Nadia Petrova, a quarter-finalist here in 2006, after she ended the comeback from injury of India’s Sania Mirza.

Safina has lost only once this year, to compatriot Elena Dementieva in the final of the Sydney International, and is in the tournament after a breakthrough 2008 in which she snared four titles plus an Olympic silver medal.

“She played a very good match. She gave me a hard time,” Safina admitted.
“But when I lost the first set I raised my level and that’s why I won quite easily after that.

“We don’t know each other, I’ve never played her and I’ve never seen her play. That’s maybe why I had to find out in the first set how to play her.”

Next up for Safina is Estonian 25th seed Kaia Kanepi, who ended Austrian Patricia Mayr’s hopes by advancing in straight sets.

Ivanovic made the final here last year where she lost to Maria Sharapova, but her late-season form in 2008 left plenty to be desired.

The 21-year-old though seems to be getting into her groove in Melbourne, where she feels at home with family and friends living here. It helped her produce a convincing display against Brianti.

“I think I improved a lot since my first match and I’m very pleased with that,” said the former world number one.

“But there are still some areas that I have to work on and improve on.

“As you progress through the tournament you come against tougher opponents, so you automatically raise your level. I think I still have to work a little bit on my serve.”

Former champion Safin, in what could be his last Australian Open, downed Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 7-5, 6-2, 6-2.

It set up a mouth-watering potential showdown with Federer, whom he beat in the 2005 semi-finals here en route to winning the title.

“I’m looking forward to it,” said Safin.

“We know each other pretty well. He knows how to play against me; I know how to play against him.”

Spanish 11th seed David Ferrer also booked his place in the third round, thrashing Slovakian veteran Dominik Hrbaty 6-2, 6-2, 6-1.—AFP

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