Jankovic eyes Slam, top spot

New York, September 1:

Second-ranked Jelena Jankovic moved closer to her first Grand Slam title and reclaiming the World No 1 ranking with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 triumph on Sunday over Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki at the US Open.

The 23-year-old Serbian advanced to the quarter-finals of the year’s last major tennis tournament, rallying in blustery conditions at Arthur Ashe Stadium to defeat an 18-year-old who won August WTA titles at Stockholm and New Haven.

Jankovic, who spent a week as World No 1 earlier in August, will next face Austrian Sybille Bammer, whom she has beaten in six of seven meetings, most recently in the fourth round of last year’s US Open. Bammer ousted French 12th seed Marion Bartoli 7-6 (7/3), 0-6, 6-4 with Bartoli weakened by a sick stomach and defying doctor’s advice not to play because of low blood pressure.

Defeating Bammer again would ensure Jankovic a chance to reclaim the top spot although Serena Williams, Elena Dementieva, Dinara Safina also remain in the mix to be number one after the Flushing Meadows fortnight. With top seed Ana Ivanovic of Serbia and Russian third seed Svetlana Kuznetsova already ousted, this is a prime chance for a Slam breakthrough.

Olympic champion Dementieva, who can take the top spot if she reaches her first Grand Slam final since the 2004 US Open, beat China’s Li Na 6-4, 6-1 in just 61 minutes. The Russian fifth seed booked a quarter-final date against Swiss 15th seed Patty Schnyder, who rallied to defeat Slovenia’s Katarina Srebotnik 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.

In the men’s section, four-time defending champion Roger Federer cruised into the fourth round while Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic was pressed to send off a stubborn teen challenger.

Twelve-time Grand Slam champion Federer won his 30th consecutive US Open match, defeating Czech Radek Stepanek 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 to book a date with Russian Igor Andreev, who ousted Spanish 13th seed Fernando Verdasco 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.

Third-seeded Serbian Djokovic subdued 19-year-old Croatian Marin Cilic 6-7 (7/9), 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (7/0) to book a fourth-round date with Spanish 15th seed Tommy Robredo, who defeated France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (7/2), 6-2, 6-3.

Russian fifth seed Nikolay Davydenko also reached the round of 16 by defeating 27th-ranked compatriot Dmitry Tursunov 6-2, 7-6 (7/3), 6-3. Davydenko next faces Luxembourg qualifier Gilles Muller, who outlasted Spain’s Nicolas Almagro 6-7 (3/7), 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (8/6), 7-5.

Also advancing to the last 16 was US eighth seed Andy Roddick, who defeated Italy’s Andreas Steppi 6-2, 7-5, 7-6 (7/4). Next up for the 2003 US Open champion, the last Flushing Meadows men’s singles winner not named Federer, will be Chilean 11th seed Fernando Gonzalez, who eliminated Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen 7-5, 6-4 6-7 (3/7), 6-1.