Commentary

Jankovic slips deeper into slump

Updated: January 20, 2011, 9:34 AM ET
By Ravi Ubha | ESPN.com

MELBOURNE, Australia -- We're into the third round at the Australian Open, the time when seeds start facing off. Maybe Rafael Nadal will have to work a little.

But before looking forward, let's look back.

Here are five things we learned from a wild round of 64 in Melbourne.

Roger is human

Roger Federer was cruising against Gilles Simon, taking a two-set lead after only 68 minutes. Then, trouble.

Federer's level waned, Simon's boosted, and all of a sudden here comes a five-setter. And when the Frenchman saved three match points at 2-5, it was déjà vu for the Swiss. Four times in 2010 he was ousted after holding match points.

"I was like, this can't be true, right?" Federer told reporters. "I've had some tough losses last year. Obviously they're in the past, and I've had a wonderful last six months, but sometimes it just doesn't seem to go your way. As much as you believe and press and do the right things, sometimes the other guy just reads your mind or it all falls into place and it's not your day."

Federer eventually closed it out 6-3 in the fifth to improve to 28-2 in his past 30 matches. He said the cool night weather hindered him as the match went on because he was unable to hit through the ball.

"A match like this can give you a lot of information, and it should be very positive in the long run," Federer said.

Kimmy is superhuman

Women's favorite Kim Clijsters isn't taking any prisoners.

She needed 44 minutes to dispatch former world No. 1 Dinara Safina in the first round and was on pace to match that time with a 22-minute first-set drubbing of Carla Suarez Navarro in Round 2.

The second set Thursday was a little longer, but Clijsters wrapped up the match in 1:02. Recall that Suarez Navarro beat Venus Williams here two years ago.

Clijsters said she's playing more aggressive, a result of being fitter.

"I think there are a lot of opportunities in the beginning of rallies, where you can really step forward and kind of dictate and put your opponent under pressure," Clijsters told reporters.

Clijsters, bidding to win a first major outside New York, hopes to avoid a third-round meltdown. She was crushed 6-0, 6-1 by Nadia Petrova in 2010.

Maria is up for the fight

Maria Sharapova is a three-time Grand Slam champion -- but she isn't one of the favorites at the Australian Open. She knows it and doesn't mind.

Sharapova is trying to find old form following a shoulder injury. Only once in her past nine majors has the U.S.-based Russian landed in a quarterfinal.

"This is a different stage in my career," said Sharapova, who downed unpredictable Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano. "It's tough to say you're enjoying it when you're struggling a bit and maybe not winning the matches you want to be winning. But when you're feeling like you're on the right path, it's gratifying that you're out there and trying to improve."

Sharapova is on that path with new Swedish coach Thomas Hogstedt.

Jelena still believes

Remember Jelena Jankovic? Like Sharapova, she's a former No. 1.

Jankovic's slump continued, as she lost in straight sets to Chinese slugger Shuai Peng on Thursday. Jankovic is a miserable 1-7 in her past eight matches.

However, like Sharapova, Jankovic isn't dwelling on negatives. She said she's happy to be healthy in the wake of an ankle injury and eye surgery in the offseason.

"It's not the end of the world," Jankovic told reporters. "I will be there. I'm not giving up. I can come back to the top."

Winning easy in Round 1 helps

Going five sets in the first round isn't the way to start a tournament, as the stats prove.

Of 12 players who went the distance, only two won their ensuing tussle, Frenchmen Gael Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Guess what? Both their victims played five sets in the first round, too.

David Nalbandian, on court for more than five hours in his opener, retired at 6-1, 6-0, 2-0 down versus Lithuanian Richard Berankis. Nalbandian lasted 59 minutes.

Ravi Ubha is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com.

London-based Ravi Ubha covers soccer and tennis for ESPN.com.