Three years ago, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic were trading the top spot in the world tennis rankings.

Now, the two Serbian women are sharing a view of the Australian Open singles draw from the sidelines after early losses to far less favoured opponents.

Seventh-seeded Jankovic was beaten by unseeded Peng Shuai of China, losing 7-6 (3), 6-3 in a second round match. Jankovic squandered a 4-1 lead in the first set and wasted two break points. After losing her first service game in the second, Jankovic broke back but could not hold serve in the sixth, leaving Peng to serve out the match.

Ivanovic fared even worse losing 3-6, 6-4, 10-8 to Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova in the first round. And they were bitter disappointments for both women as they try to reclaim heights of previous years.

Ivanovic claimed the No. 1 WTA ranking in June 2008 after winning the French Open. It remains her only Grand Slam title. She held the top spot for nine weeks before Jankovic grabbed it for just one week in August before relinquishing it back to Ivanovic.

Jankovic, who reached the semifinals of the Australian and French Opens in 2008 before losing the U.S. Open final to Serena Williams, won four of her 12 career WTA titles that year. But both Jankovic and Ivanovic said they are confident of recovering their glory days.

“I always believe in myself,” Jankovic said. “The most important thing is that I’m healthy because I can just work on my game and really work on my fitness. The more I play, the better I get. I think I will be able to come back and even be a stronger and a better player.”

She started 2010 strongly, winning 32 of 44 matches and the Indian Wells tournament before injuries took a toll. From Wimbledon to the end of the season she won just 7 of 18 matches.

“There are no excuses for me. I just have to continue to go forward,” she said. “It’s not the end of the world,” she added. “It’s many tournaments to play. I will be there. I’m not giving up. I know I can be good and I can beat those players and I can come back to the top.”

“I still have lot of room to improve and lot of things to build on,” Ivanovic said after her loss. “I certainly still believe I can get back to top 10, and I believe I can do it in this year.” She recalled that at the time the extra pressure of having to defend her No. 1 ranking had helped spur her to play better. And now she wants that pressure back.

“Actually, at this moment I want pressure because pressure actually makes you perform better,” she said. “If you know how to deal with it, it can work for you instead of against you. Also, when you have pressure, it means you’re in a position to do something good. “I didn’t think I would be saying (this), but I do want pressure.”

Keywords: Australian Open

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