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Jankovic bucks the seed-sinking trend in Tokyo

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:45

Jelena Jankovic has emerged as the highest-ranked player still in the Pan Pacific Open draw as seven of the world’s top ten made early exits at the Tokyo event, but faces a tricky quarter-final showdown with Marion Bartoli.

The No.7 seeded Serbian booked her place in the last eight after Elena Vesnina retired with a left thigh injury while Jankovic was firmly in control at 6-1 3-0 in their third-round match.

But the former world No.1 refuses to let her newfound status add to the pressure as she chanses a first title in Japan.

“I don’t really think about that,” Jankovic said. “I just think about my game and what I have to do on the court. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself.”

“Some of the other girls not in the top 10 have played really well here” – Sharapova

Marion Bartoli should provide plenty for Jankovic to worry about. The No.14 seed recovered from a set down to defeat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 4-6 6-2 7-5, and will be keen to post a third straight win against the Serbian this year.

Jankovic has lost to Bartoli twice this year, at the Australian Open and at Stanford, and started a simmering war of words by claiming she “always beats Jankovic”.

Unseeded Maria Sharapova recovered from a slow start Wednesday to reach the last eight with a 2-6 6-2 6-2 win over compatriot Alisa Kleybanova and will face Iveta Benesova on Thursday.

After a shaky start, the world No.25 took control of the match in the second set when she broke Kleybanova three times to open up a 5-0 lead.

“She started off really strong,” Sharapova said. “I was too slow in the beginning. Nobody had much of a warmup today, we kind of had to warm up in the first few games and she did a much better job of that than me.”

2005 champion Sharapova, who won her first career title at the 2003 Japan Open, broke Kleybanova three more times in the final set before closing out the match.

With only two of the nine members of the top ten still in the tournament – Azarenka beat Lucie Safarova to advance – she is positioned well for another shot at a title in the $2 million event.

“Some of the other girls not in the top 10 have played really well here,” Sharapova said. “You’ve got to expect that from every player you play and focus on the task at hand.”

Elsewhere, Magdalena Rybarikova defeated Aleksandra Wozniak 1-6 6-3 6-3, while Iveta Benesova defeated Taiwan’s Chang Kai-chan 7-5 6-2.

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