— Top-ranked Jelena Jankovic went out in the fourth round of the Australian Open, and No. 3 Dinara Safina was twice a point away from following her to the exit.
In consecutive matches at Rod Laver Arena, Frenchwomen took it to the top seeds. Jankovic was ousted 6-1, 6-4 by No. 16 Marion Bartoli. Safina survived, fending off double match point in a 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 victory against No. 15 Alize Cornet.
"I am so lucky that I'm in the quarterfinals," said Safina, who had eight double-faults and 52 unforced errors to only 29 by Cornet. "My heart is still pumping so hard."
Cornet led 5-3, 40-15 on her serve before Safina's rally. Bartoli, the 2007 Wimbledon runner-up, was the aggressor in her triumph.
"I tried to not think about it for the whole match," Bartoli said of Jankovic's No. 1 ranking. "This is my first time playing in Rod Laver Arena. I think I just played amazingly today and I'm so glad to put on a good performance."
Bartoli had not been past the second round in seven previous trips to Melbourne.
Critics questioned whether Jankovic could convert her ranking into her first victory in the championship match at a major. She was a semifinalist at the Australian and French opens last year before losing the U.S. Open final to Serena Williams, who at No. 2 is the highest-ranked player — and only American — left in the Melbourne women's draw.
Bartoli hits two-fisted shots, flat and hard from both sides, and she peppered the lines and corners. Jankovic, repeatedly covering her face or looking to her mother for support and guidance, seemed shellshocked after falling behind 5-0 in the first set.
Earlier, men's No. 1 Rafael Nadal ripped 53 winners and had just eight unforced errors in a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Tommy Haas.
"I played one of my best matches here at the Australian Open," said Nadal, who has improved by one round in each of his five trips to Australia. He'll have to get to the final to continue that sequence.
Nadal has got 2007 Australian Open runner-up Fernando Gonzalez next. The 28-year-old Chilean rallied from two sets down and saved a match point en route to a 3-6, 3-6, 7-6 (12-10), 6-2, 12-10 win over Richard Gasquet of France.
James Blake became the second American to reach the final 16, joining Andy Roddick. Blake beat Igor Andreev 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.
Scotland's Andy Murray, who has amassed the world's most ranking points since last year's Wimbledon, won 7-5, 6-0, 6-3 over Austrian Jurgen Melzer.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun