August 26, 2008 / 1:36 AM / 10 years ago

Contender Jankovic eases into second round

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Second seed Jelena Jankovic underlined her title credentials by cruising into the second round of the U.S. Open with a commanding 6-3 6-1 win over American teenager Coco Vandeweghe on Monday.

Jelena Jankovic of Serbia returns a shot from Coco Vandeweghe of the U.S. during their match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Flushing Meadows, New York August 25, 2008. REUTERS/Jeff Zelevansky

The Serbian, who briefly claimed top spot in the world rankings earlier this month, dominated with her crunching groundstrokes before wrapping up victory in an hour at Flushing Meadows.

Vandeweghe, 16, failed to make much of an impression in her first grand-slam appearance despite a hard-hitting game, totalling 33 unforced errors in an evening match on the Arthur Ashe Stadium court.

“I was excited to go on court, play my match and get the job done,” Jankovic, 23, told reporters. “I was also quite nervous tonight, I don’t know why. It was my first match and I was playing an opponent who I didn’t know.

“All I knew she was a junior and I only heard that she was 16 years old they said when they introduced her on the court. She was hitting the ball so hard, maybe harder than the top players.

“And it’s always tough to play an opponent who doesn’t have anything to lose, especially in the first round with the windy conditions out there.

Jelena Jankovic of Serbia slips and falls during her match with Coco Vandeweghe of the U.S. during their match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Flushing Meadows, New York August 25, 2008. REUTERS/Jeff Zelevansky

“But I did as much as I needed to do to win the match,” the Serbian world number two added. “I am happy with my win and looking forward to the next round.”

TITLE FAVOURITES

Jankovic is among the title favourites for the last grand-slam event of the year.

She reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open and Wimbledon earlier this season, successfully defended her WTA title in Rome in May and is vying with her compatriot Ana Ivanovic for the number one ranking.

“To reach the No. 1 spot is amazing,” said Jankovic, who replaced Ivanovic at the head of the rankings on August 11 before slipping back to number two the following week.

“And it’s something that will stay in my record, in my biography, for the rest of my life. Nobody can take that away from me.

“I’m only the 18th player to achieve that. It’s a huge achievement and I’m really proud to join a selection of great champions. Of course I want to keep developing my game and keep improving. In order to do that, the priority is to be healthy.”

Jankovic, whose best run at the U.S. Open was reaching the last four in 2006, will next meet Swede Sofia Arvidsson.

Editing by Larry Fine

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