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No. 2 Jankovic guts out second round win at U.S. Open

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

By IRA PODELL

AP Sports Writer

NEW YORK -- Jelena Jankovic's leg cramped so badly, she couldn't take another step.

Luckily for the No. 2 seed in the U.S. Open, the agony occurred during her post-match run on the treadmill. Anyone who watched could clearly see she left about everything she had out on the court.

Jankovic outlasted Sweden's Sofia Arvidsson 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-5 Wednesday on yet another uncharacteristically mild August day in Flushing Meadows. She planned to take a 10-minute run on the treadmill but lasted only three when pain flared in the area of a knee injury sustained at Wimbledon.

"I couldn't go anymore," Jankovic said. "My leg was straight and I couldn't bend it. The muscle was in spasm and I had a lot of pain."

Treatment with ice and stretching and massaging loosened her leg enough for her to go back to the locker room to take a shower before she spoke to reporters in a much more comfortable setting.

Until then, it was Arvidsson who made her life difficult for the better part of three hours.

Jankovic bent over her racket, leaned against a back wall with a towel pressed to her face, and sprawled on her stomach in the middle of center court. Then she gutted her way into the third round.

The combination of not being in match condition following the injury and an array of hard forehands and well-placed drop shots by Arvidsson left Jankovic fighting to get her wind during the 2-hour, 44-minute match at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

"That was a really tough one," said Jankovic, who has reached the fourth round in the first three Grand Slam events this year. "As you can see, I am completely out of breath. She really pushed me to the limit."

Andy Roddick, who has battled a shoulder injury this summer that led him to skip the Beijing Olympics, was scheduled to close out the night session Wednesday against Fabrice Santoro -- the oldest man in the draw at 35. The third night traditionally showcases the first men's match of the second round, but this year that was saved until Thursday.

All women's matches Wednesday were second-round pairings.

Jankovic twice served for the win in the middle set against Arvidsson, yet couldn't put her away -- even with a match point in reach. Jankovic held off Arvidsson in a back-and-forth third set when both had trouble holding serve.

When Arvidsson fired long on the final point, Jankovic had her third service break of the third set and eighth overall. There was suddenly a spring in her step as she waved and blew kisses to the crowd.

Even with the squandered chances, Jankovic still had an opportunity to advance without going the distance. She jumped to a 3-0 lead in the second set tiebreak before losing six straight points. Jankovic extended the set by winning two points on her serve, but fired wide as she approached the net -- drawing an exuberant "Yeah" from Arvidsson.

Several times, Jankovic hunched over and leaned on her racket but didn't appear to be in distress. The Serb, ranked No. 1 earlier this year, lost in the fourth round at Wimbledon after injuring a knee in the previous match.

If anything ailed her other than fatigue Wednesday, it wasn't evident in the decisive third set when she raced to a 3-0 edge. Jankovic doubled over again when a fortuitous shot by Arvidsson crept over the net after it smacked the cord in the fourth game, but that appeared more out of exasperation than discomfort.

After a drop shot eluded her dive, Jankovic dropped to the court face down and stayed there for several moments. If anything, it gave her a brief rest.

"I was just tired and I couldn't get up," Jankovic said. "I was just trying to come back to normal position where I could just stand up and regroup again and play the next point."

The only worry she had at that point had to do with her bright yellow outfit that matched nicely with the deep blue court.

"I thought I was going to get my dress really dirty. That was my biggest concern," she said. "I would have loved to take a nap on the court because I was really exhausted. But you know, the rules are the rules. I had to keep going."

While Jankovic escaped an early exit, No. 8 seed Vera Zvonareva couldn't. Zvonareva was upended by Tatiana Perebiynis 6-3, 6-3 in the tournament's biggest upset yet.

No. 3 Svetlana Kuznetsova shook off an early break and rallied to a 7-6 (3), 6-1 victory over Sorana Cirstea. Fifth-seeded Elena Dementieva advanced over Pauline Parmentier 6-2, 6-1. No. 12 Marion Bartoli of France, No. 14 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and No. 15 Patty Schnyder of Switzerland also won.

Former champ Lindsay Davenport, the No. 23 seed, beat Alisa Kleybanova 7-5, 6-3.

No. 25 Francesca Schiavone was knocked out by Anne Keothavong 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, and Zheng Jie of China eliminated No. 26 Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-1, 6-4.

In men's first-round play, No. 3 seed Novak Djokovic shook off an injury to his left ankle in the third set and beat Arnaud Clement 6-3, 6-3, 6-4. Djokovic rolled the ankle while going for a shot on the right sideline in the fourth game. After receiving on-court treatment, he wrapped up the match with a break of Clement's serve.

Fifth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko beat Dudi Sela 6-3, 6-3, 6-3; Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the No. 19 seed, moved on with a 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 win over Santiago Ventura; and No. 18 Nicolas Almagro beat Frank Dancevic 6-3, 6-4, 7-5.

Kuznetsova, the 2004 champion and No. 3 seed this year, trailed 4-2 in the opening set before getting back on serve and eventually forcing a tiebreak that she dominated against her inexperienced opponent. She cruised to a 5-0 lead in the second and closed out the match in 1 hour, 13 minutes.

"Here you feel special, like I've made it here," Kuznetsova said. "It's an amazing feeling. ... I just play much more confident."



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