Posted: Saturday January 18, 2014 7:48 AM

Jankovic cracks jokes at Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - After her third consecutive win over a Japanese opponent, 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,'' Jankovic said, without a hint of contrition. ''I look forward to playing some other player from somewhere else next.''

She faces Simona Halep of Romania in the next round.

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 don't 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 a 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.''

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SHARAPOVA REPORTING FROM SOCHI: Maria Sharapova will trade her tennis racket for a microphone in a few weeks to join NBC for the Winter Olympics in her childhood home.

''Everyone seems to think I will be commentating on winter sports. I'm not a bobsledding expert,'' Sharapova told reporters. ''I will confirm I won't be commentating.''

The four-time Grand Slam champion lived in Sochi until she was 6 and still has family and friends in the area. She was Russia's flag-bearer at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, where she won a silver medal.

''I'm going to be showcasing the city of Sochi to a worldwide audience,'' she said. ''I'm going to be with a few different co-hosts around the city, in the village and then I'm going to be doing a few segments in the studio.''

The opening ceremony in Sochi is Feb. 7.

But first she'll focus on her tennis. Sharpova beat Alize Cornet 6-1, 7-6 (6) in the third round Saturday and next faces No. 20 Dominika Cibulkova.

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FRENCH FEAT: Nimble-toed Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga did three pirouettes and a flying leap to celebrate his victory, a bittersweet win over his friend Gilles Simon.

The two were among eight Frenchman through to the third round of the Australian Open, equaling an Open era Grand Slam record set at the 1971 French Open.

The No. 10-seeded Tsonga described his 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-2 win over No. 18 Simon as ''a little war'' between friends.

To set an Australian Open record for the next round, four of the Frenchmen needed to advance - but only two made it through.

The other was 119th-ranked Stephane Robert, who became the first lucky loser to advance this far at the tournament.

Less lucky were No. 25 Gael Monfils and No. 27 Benoit Paire, both of whom lost their third-round matches Saturday.

Others exited in third-round matches Friday: No. 9 Richard Gasquet, No. 29 Jerome Chardy and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

A 2008 runner-up in Melbourne, Tsonga is trying to win his first Grand Slam title. First he needs to first beat Roger Federer in the fourth round, a rematch of last year's quarterfinal which Federer won.

''For me, it's the possibility to take revenge,'' Tsonga said.

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SPANISH SUCCESS: Nobody is more surprised by the success of Roberto Bautista Agut than the 25-year-old himself.

First, the 62nd-ranked Spaniard staged the biggest upset of the tournament with a second-round win Thursday over No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champion.

It was his first win over a top 10 player.

He followed up his success on Saturday by beating No. 27 Benoit Paire of France, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4, to win a spot in the fourth round.

''I never thought I was going to be in the fourth round of a Grand Slam,'' he said after the match.

It marked Bautista Agut's best Grand Slam showing, after reaching the second round at all four majors in 2013.

The Spaniard's next challenge is No. 22 Grigor Dimitrov, who beat No. 11 Milos Raonic in the third round.

 
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