Bartoli upsets Jankovic, Safina survives

Updated: January 25, 2009, 1:24 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Jelena Jankovic went out in the fourth round of the Australian Open on Sunday and No. 3 Dinara Safina was twice a point away from following the top-ranked player to the exit.

In consecutive matches at Rod Laver Arena, Frenchwomen took it to the top seeds. Jankovic was ousted by No. 16 Marion Bartoli. Safina survived, fending off double-match point against No. 15 Alize Cornet.

"I am so lucky that I'm in the quarterfinals, she was one point away," said Safina, who made eight double-faults and 52 unforced errors to only 29 by Cornet. "My heart is still pumping so hard."

Bartoli, the 2007 Wimbledon runner-up, was the aggressor in a 6-1, 6-4 win against Jankovic that wasn't entirely unexpected.
[+] EnlargeMarion Bartoli
Clive Brunskill/Getty ImagesMarion Bartoli had not been past the second round in seven previous trips to Melbourne Park.

"Yeah, it's obviously disappointing. Nobody likes to lose," Jankovic said. "Today was a tough day for me.

"I had a slow start. I let my opponent completely come on top of me and play her game. I gave her a lot of confidence."

Jelena Dokic was a fourth-round winner, beating Russian Alisa Kleybanova 7-5, 5-7, 8-6.

The Yugoslav-born Australian turned back the clock to reach her first grand slam quarterfinal since the 2002 French Open.

"This is unbelievable to be in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam," Dokic said in a courtside interview. "I was going to have the week off but I guess those plans are scratched now."

Jankovic remains without a Grand Slam singles title and could also be without the No. 1 ranking in another week.

Bartoli will face No. 7 Vera Zvonareva in the quarterfinals. Zvonareva beat fellow Russian Nadia Petrova 7-5, 6-4 to reach the Australian Open quarterfinals for the first time.

Zvonareva won the first set when No. 10 Petrova dropped her serve in the 11th game on a double-fault and then broke her immediately at the start of the second.

Zvonareva has not made a Grand Slam quarterfinal since the 2003 French Open.

Safina, who was down 5-3 and 40-15 with Cornet on serve, rallied to win 6-2, 2-6, 7-5. She assumes the top ranking if she wins her first major here.

When the 22-year-old Russian converted breakpoint with an overhead in the pivotal 10th game in the third set, she pumped her right arm up high in triumph.

Cornet, who had crumbled to her knees with her head in her hands after losing the previous point, didn't win another game.

Safina, the Olympic silver medalist, had never been past the third round at Melbourne Park. After racing to a 5-0 lead in the first set, it appeared she was coasting. Then she came apart and started missing routine shots with the court wide open.

"I don't always want to play like this," she said. "I want to play better for my team, I think they have a heart attack watching me."

Jankovic said she couldn't repeat her coach's reaction to her loss, but that it might take months to get over the loss.
[+] EnlargeDinara Safina
Lucas Dawson/Getty ImagesNo. 3 Dinara Safina will assume the top ranking in the world if she wins the major.

The 23-year-old Serb said the pressure she was under to win a breakthrough major to go with her ranking wasn't necessarily distractions.

"It doesn't matter because it's just the beginning of the year, and there is many more tournaments to play," she said. "Maybe it will change, the No. 1 ranking, but it's not important what you do now, it's the whole year ahead of us."

Bartoli had not been past the second round in seven previous trips to Melbourne Park, but was 3-3 in head-to-heads including a quarterfinal win at Wimbledon two years ago.

"I knew I could beat Jelena on a good day, it was just a matter of executing it, you know, play the right shot at the right time," she said. "But I was not overwhelmed by the situation, and I just went for my shot and everything went in."

Critics questioned whether Jankovic could convert her numeric ranking into a victory in the championship match at a major. She was a semifinalist at the Australian Open and French Opens last year before losing the U.S. Open final to Serena Williams.

She was injured and missed an exhibition tournament in Hong Kong where she'd planned to build up.

When Bartoli turned up the pressure Sunday, Jankovic tightened up again.

Bartoli was the aggressor, repeatedly sending Jankovic serves back faster than they came over and standing two steps inside the baseline for second serves.

Bartoli hits two-fisted, flat and hard from both sides, and she peppered the lines and corners. Jankovic, repeatedly covering her face or looking to her mother for support and guidance, seemed shellshocked after falling behind 5-0 in the first set despite shouts of "Let's go JJ!" from the crowd.

Jankovic fended off two set points while serving at 1-5, but Bartoli easily held in the next game, finishing off the set with a deft drop shot that caught Jankovic behind the baseline.

Increasingly tentative and bewildered, Jankovic twice lost points early in the second set by stopping play on Bartoli shots that she thought were long but replays showed caught the line. She used up her last challenge of the set in the sixth game.

Bartoli broke to pull ahead 5-4 in a game that went to deuce six times, with Jankovic netting a backhand on breakpoint.

Jankovic wanted to challenge Bartoli's winner in the next game but couldn't. The Frenchwoman went on to hold despite a twitchy double fault at 40-15, whacking a forehand winner down the line and raising her arms in jubilation.

That leaves No. 2 Serena Williams as the highest-ranked player in the draw. The nine-time Grand Slam winner beat China's Peng Shuai on Saturday to reach the fourth round.

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this story.