Svetlana Kuznetsova emerged victorious from an epic tussle against former World No.1 Jelena Jankovic to reach the second week of the Australian Open.
WTA Staff

MELBOURNE, Australia - Six years after her four-hour epic against Francesca Schiavone at this very tournament, No.8 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova came out on the winning side of Friday's titanic three-setter against former No.1 Jelena Jankovic, 6-4, 5-7, 9-7, to reach the fourth round at the Australian Open.

"It was crazy," Kuznetsova admitted in her inimitable way after the match. "I was up set and 4-1 with a double break. Then I found myself down 3-0 and 15-40 on my serve in third set.

"It was a bit insane, but it's a tennis match, anything can happen; it's never done until you shake the hand."

Kuznetsova is no stranger to long matches in Australia, having narrowly lost to Schiavone, 6-4, 1-6, 16-14 in what remains the longest Grand Slam match in WTA history back at four hours and 44 minutes in 2011.

There were few signs from the outset that her encounter against Jankovic would approach that duration, as the Russian raced out to a set and double break lead, serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set. Jankovic turned the tables on Kuznetsova at the 11th hour to win the final three games of the second set and force a decider.

Serving second in the final set, the No.8 seed twice fell behind a break as Jankovic served for a 5-2 lead. Kuznetsova promptly broke back and earned a chance to serve out the match; not to be outdone, Jankovic leveled proceedings at five games apiece and kept things on serve until the fateful 15th game.

"It's so tough, especially after three and a half hours of playing, that one of us had to lose," Jankovic said after the match. "Unfortunately, it was me. I'm quite disappointed after such a battle, and it's not easy to accept. I had my chances and I gave myself the opportunity to win the match.

"After 3-0, I wasn't making as many first serves in; I don't know if it was because I got tired spending a lot of hours out there. I haven't competed much, and my percentage of first serves went down, so I couldn't hold my serve for a while.

"I still have to work hard to get back to my best level, but at the end, Sveta was fitter than me in the end. I tried so hard, but I couldn't move anymore and she was the one still standing."

The third time proved lucky for the three-time Australian Open quarterfinalist, who served out the win on her first match point after three hours and 36 minutes on court.

Up next for Kuznetsova is No.24 seed and compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who earned the biggest upset thus far on Day 5 by knocking out No.11 seed Elina Svitolina in three sets.