Jankovic survives another three-setter

Jelena Jankovic took just over two hours to oust 28-year-old Croatian Mirjana Lucic 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 on Louis Armstrong today. The 2008 finalist dropped a set for the second time but looked much improved from her near-loss in the opening match.

The fourth seeded Serb won a solid 6-4 first set, but Lucic slowly amped up the intensity, her self-confidence visibly improving with each shout and fist-pump.

"She played really well," Jankovic said. "I knew that she hits the ball so hard, but she really gave me a hard time out there."

At 28, Lucic was once a teenage up-and-comer. She was the 1996 US Open Girls champion and in 1998 won the Australian Open Women's Doubles title with partner Martina Hingis, but financial constraints and injuries kept her off the WTA tour for several years. Since returning in 2007 she has often struggled to qualify for tour-level tournaments.

Lucic played with her thigh wrapped and, after the first set, called a trainer to treat a blister on her right foot, but it was slapdash play rather than injuries that weighed her down today. She had a total of 60 unforced errors in the match - over three times that of her opponent.

Jankovic broke early in the second set, initiating a game of catch-up with the Croat. Somehow Lucic was able to channel her resigned frustration into energy and strike key winners at just the right moments. When she equalized to a set a piece, she let loose a victory cry and giant fist-pump. The momentum soon slowed, however, with Lucic unable to manufacture the necessary money shots, and Jankovic cemented the win with a 6-2 third set.

Jankovic admitted her game is still not where she'd like it to be - before today she had not won consecutive matches in her last five tournaments - but she is moving in the right direction.

"I think I played much better than in the first round, so I'm happy with that," she said.

Jankovic will try her luck against Kaia Kanepi in the third round.

Match Facts

- Jankovic is playing in her 7th consecutive US Open.

- Lucic hit 60 unforced errors in the match.

- Jankovic double faulted six times, but Lucic more than doubled that, throwing in 13 doubles.

- Jankovic was a 2008 US Open finalist, losing to Serena Williams.

Source: usopen.org

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