Jankovic lives up to billing

SWEET SPOT: Serbia's Jelena Jankovic returns the ball to Austria's Yvonne Meusburger during thier women's singles match in the Australian Open Tennis Championship in Melbourne, Australia, yesterday. 19/01/2009. Pic. Rick Stevens.  ©AP.
SWEET SPOT: Serbia's Jelena Jankovic returns the ball to Austria's Yvonne Meusburger during thier women's singles match in the Australian Open Tennis Championship in Melbourne, Australia, yesterday. 19/01/2009. Pic. Rick Stevens. ©AP.

MELBOURNE - Top seed Jelena Jankovic of Serbia underscored her Australian Open credentials with an easy first-round win yesterday but fifth seeded compatriot Ana Ivanovic struggled for form.

MELBOURNE - Top seed Jelena Jankovic of Serbia underscored her Australian Open credentials with an easy first-round win yesterday but fifth seeded compatriot Ana Ivanovic struggled for form.

Searing conditions during the first day's play at Melbourne Park failed to force any upsets on the women's side of the draw, as Russians Dinara Safina (seeded three) and Vera Zvonareva (seven) also advanced comfortably.

Jankovic's main problem in disposing of Austria's Yvonne Meusburger 6-1 6-3 was the heat from the court's rubberised surface scalding her feet, forcing her to rest her soles on ice during changeovers.

The 23-year-old consequently wrapped up the match as quickly as possible in 70 minutes, declaring herself "fit and ready to play" as she chases a maiden grand slam title to go with her ranking as the world's best player.

"It's nice to get going and get off to a good start," she said, crediting a gruelling off-season training schedule in Mexico with strengthening her once injury-prone body.

While Jankovic danced around like a cat on a hot tin roof, Ivanovic stumbled alarmingly, searching for the form that took her to last year's final here and a breakthrough win at the French Open.

The glamorous 21-year-old eventually downed Germany's Julia Goerges 7-5 6-3 but failed to dominate a player ranked 102 places below her.

Ivanovic insisted she would shake off the rust but admitted the joy she felt competing at her peak last year was proving difficult to recapture. - Sapa-AFP

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