Jankovic outlasts Lisicki, Safina cruises past Hantuchova

May 1st, 2009 - 2:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Venus Williams Stuttgart, May 1 (DPA) Defending champion Jelena Jankovic outlasted fighting German teenager Sabine Lisicki, 7-5, 5-7, 6-3, to book a place in the Porsche Grand Prix quarter-finals.
The third-seeded Serb Jankovic squandered a 4-2 lead in the second set and escaped a third-set scare to beat the 42nd-ranked Lisicki in 2 hours 13 minutes on her second match point Thursday .

“Oh my God. To be honest, my opponent played really great. She gave me a hard time,” said the former number one Jankovic.

Lisicki, 19, upset American star Venus Williams en route to her first career title two weeks ago in Charleston and despite the defeat showed her class again.

World number one Dinara Safina, meanwhile, defeated Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova 6-4, 6-2 as she led a trio of Russian seeds into the final eight, the others being second seed Elena Dementieva and fifth-seed Svetlana Kuznetsova.

It could have even been four Russians had not sixth seed Nadia Petrova lost 6-2, 6-2 to Italy’s Flavia Pannetta. Eighth seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland advanced while seventh-seeded Dane Caroline Wozniacki crashed out.

Jankovic took the top spot when she won the Stuttgart title last October, then on a hard court. The tournament is now the first ever on the WTA Tour on indoor clay at its new date.

It comes at the right time as Jankovic is finding her form again in the clay season, with her winning in Marbella, Spain, and hoping for more success in Stuttgart.

Jankovic took the first set from an early break down, but then wasted a 4-2 lead as the hard-hitting Lisicki bounced back to 4-4, broke again for 6-5 and squared the sets with a winner.

Jankovic seemed on course to victory when she served at 4-2, 40-0, but Lisicki still refused to bow, winning the next five points for 4-3. But the joy was shortlived as Jankovic broke at love and then served out the match, winning when Lisicki netted a return.

“I was happy to get through the match. She was serving very hard, at speeds of 180-190 kilometres. Not many girls can do that,” said Jankovic, who plays Pennetta Friday.

Lisicki said: “I wanted to play at my best. And I think I showed at times how good I can play and that I can fight. (But) In the end she made the important points and I was tired.”

Safina broke Hantuchova in the opening game and never looked back en route to victory in 69 minutes as she tied their series at 3-3 after Hantuchova had won their last three matches.

“We have had close matches in the past, but I think I played a good match,” said Safina.

The Olympic champion Dementieva struggled in the beginning and the end before defeating Hungary’s Agnes Szavay 7-6 (7-4), 6-1, coming back from 4-1 down and then needing five match points in 1:37 hours.

“I really had a slow start, it was tough to come back from 4-1 down. I won the tiebreak and she was very disappointed about that. She didn’t fight so hard in the second set. (But) I couldn’t finish it,” said Dementieva.

Dementieva now runs into former Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli, who upset Wozniacki 7-6 (8-6), 6-4. Safina meets Radwanska, a 6-3, 6-3 winner over Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova.

Kuznetsova spent 2:20 hours on court before disposing of China’s Li Na, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 for a meeting with Argentine Gisela Dulko.

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