Jankovic defeats third-straight Japanese player to reach fourth round

Jelena Jankovic has never won the Australian Open, but she reached the semifinals in 2008.
SAEED KHAN/Getty Images

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- After her third win over a Japanese opponent in three rounds, Jelena Jankovic felt like rattling off a few jokes about Japan.

It's like ''I'm playing the Japanese Open. It's not the Aussie Open for me,'' Jankovic laughed, when the issue first came up during her on-court interview.

The former No. 1-ranked Jankovic beat Kurumi Nara 6-4, 7-5 in the third round Saturday. It followed her wins over Misaki Doi and Ayumi Morita.

''Of course, I'm not going to get a visa for Japan next time I have to play there,'' Jankovic said, drawing laughs from the crowd.

''I beat three Japanese in three rounds. I'm sorry Japan,'' said Jankovic, who faces Simona Halep of Romania in the next round. ''I look forward to playing some other player from somewhere else next.''

Jankovic praised 74th-ranked Nara, who was making her singles debut at the Australian Open.

''Sometimes I think a point is over and the ball is coming back,'' said Jankovic. ''She's just so fast. It's amazing how fast she is.''

All the effort built up her appetite, she added.

''It was not easy to get through, maybe I can now go to have some sushi,'' she laughed, before moving on to poke a little fun at herself.

Asked what fans might not know about her, the No. 8-seeded Jankovic said that her slicked back ponytail was the result of a lot of hairspray.

''It's like cement,'' she said. ''People think, `Oh, your hair is so nice and in order.' But if you touch it you probably break your fingers.''

She also has a shoe fetish.

''I just built a huge closet,'' she said, estimating she owns about a hundred pairs. ''It's like big room just to put all these shoes.''

Jancovic's sense of humor has ruffled some in the past, particularly in 2010 after she beat Ana Ivanovic at a tournament in Madrid and then mocked her fellow Serb's motivational fist-pump. It was caught on video and made waves, prompting Jankovic to later describe her relationship with Ivanovic, the 2008 French Open winner, as a healthy rivalry. Ivanovic has also advanced to the fourth round in Melbourne.

Jankovic once seemed headed for tennis stardom, a destiny she is still trying to fulfill. She held the No. 1 ranking for 18 weeks in 2008, the same year she was a runner-up at the U.S. Open.

''The only thing I need and I would like in my career is to win a Grand Slam,'' said Jankovic, striking a serious note. ''That's something I'm missing.''

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.