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Ivanovic powers into Open third round

sports Updated: Jan 17, 2008 17:08 IST

AFP
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Fourth seed Ana Ivanovic swept into the Australian Open third round with a crushing win over Italy's Tathiana Garbin on Thursday, establishing herself as the new darling of Melbourne Park on the way.

The Serbian beauty steamrollered Garbin 6-0, 6-3 in her first night match at a Grand Slam, describing her performance as "awesome".

The 20-year-old, who suffered a meltdown in her only Grand Slam final at the French Open last year and spoke earlier in this tournament about panicking on-court, revelled in the spotlight.

She produced a near-flawless display against the hapless Garbin, crediting the crowd with helping subdue the butterflies in her stomach.

"Even if I was a little bit nervous, the crowd helped me get over it so much, they were great tonight," the beaming Serb said.

"I just played an awesome match, I really hope I can keep at this level and play as long as possible here," she added.

Ivanovic broke Garbin's serve on her first attempt then defended two break points to shoot to a 3-0 lead, cheered on by her Australian-based relatives and the local expatriate Serb community.

Another break followed and a frustrated Garbin double faulted as she desperately tried to hold off the world number three, who gave the Italian no way into the game and took the opening set 6-0 in 24 minutes.

Ivanovic continued to shut out Garbin in the second set, mixing up her game with forays to the net, cross-court winners and delicate drop shots as the one-sided match began to resemble a practice session.

Garbin had no answers to the Serbian's power, shanking the ball skyward on several occasions as she tried to return Ivanovic rockets.

The 30-year-old Italian received wild applause when she stole a point off an Ivanovic serve, giving a wry smile as she gestured to the crowd for more.

Garbin did finally manage a service break after 44 minutes to get on the board and avoid being on the wrong end of a dreaded 6-0, 6-0 "double bagel", holding serve in the next to claim her second game.

The Italian then saved two match points in the next game to add some respectability to the second set scoreline but Ivanovic went on to serve out the match after a minor wobble when she threw away another three match points.

The crowd, missing an adopted favourite in the absence this year of Kim Clijsters -- once dubbed "Aussie Kim" by locals -- warmed to Ivanovic, who admitted she coveted the same cult status the Belgian enjoyed Down Under.

"I wouldn't complain, I just love coming out here and playing," said the Serb, who has previously said she may settle down in Australia when she retires.

Before then, she must meet Slovenian Katarina Srebotnik in the third round as her campaign to win her maiden Grand Slam continues at Melbourne Park.

Ivanovic said she would refrain from participating in a traditional Australian barbeque with her locally-based relatives.

"Not yet, I'm saving myself for after the tournament, if I eat too much I wouldn't be able to move," she said.