Jelena Jankovic has got her Australian Open 2013 campaign off to the best possible start, winning through to the second round with a straight-sets victory over Joanna Larsson of Sweden on Monday.
An Australian Open semifinalist back in 2008 and world No.1 in the same year, Jankovic defeated Larsson 6-2 6-2 to set up a second round meeting against Maria Joao Koehler of Portugal, who downed Italian Karin Knapp 3-6 6-3 6-3.
She may not play with the same joie de vivre or smack her down-the-line backhand as authoritatively as she did in her heyday, but the Serb still did enough to coast through to the second round at Melbourne Park for the 11th consecutive year.
“First matches are never easy. I didn't know really my opponent. It was our first match against each other,” Jankovic said.
“So I did enough to win. But obviously there was a lot of things that I could have done better, that I've done well.”
Jankovic went up a break early in the opening set, and in the fifth game was fortunate to repeat the feat, poking a lunging volley into the middle of the court before being let off the hook by a Larsson error.
Using the colourful support of the large Swedish contingent on Show Court 3 to her advantage, Larsson broke back in the sixth game, only to drop her serve yet again in the very next game. Despite falling behind 0-30 when serving for the set, Jankovic steadied to close it out in 41 minutes.
It was little wonder the Swede was banging her racquet in frustration – she finished the set with just four winners and made 16 unforced errors.
The No.22 seed maintained the pressure on Larsson as the second set commenced, moving the Swede around the court with her backhand to score an immediate break.
And she was simply too consistent as the match progressed, playing with controlled aggression to move ahead 5-1.
Two games later, Jankovic saw off the challenge of the 69th-ranked Larsson after one hour and 17 minutes on court, finishing with 16 winners to six and keeping her unforced errors to 23 while the Swede committed 36.
“To be honest I'm not thinking too far ahead. I just want to go one match at a time … and we see how it goes,” the Serb said when asked about a possible third-round showdown against compatriot Ana Ivanovic.
“Right now (my coach and I are) just working and trying to get back in form, in the shape. My goal is to get to the top again.”