Australian Open wide open as Jankovic crashes out

MELBOURNE: The Australian Open was blown wide open Sunday when top seed Jelena Jankovic crashed out, joining Ana Ivanovic and Venus Williams as high-profile early round casualties.

They were nearly joined by Russian third seed Dinara Safina, who survived two match points to claw back and beat France''s Alize Cornet 6-2, 2-6, 7-5.

Jankovic was crushed by French 16th seed Marion Bartoli 6-1, 6-4, giving more ammunition to critics who believe she doesn''t deserve the world number one ranking having never won a Grand Slam.

With Ivanovic and Williams already gone, the first Grand Slam of the season has become one of the most open ever with Bartoli into a quarter-final against either Russia''s Nadia Petrova or Vera Zvonareva.

Safina appeared certain to follow Jankovic out when Cornet was serving for the match at 5-4 and 40-15, but she somehow clung on and hauled herself out of trouble.

Despite almost tumbling out of the tournament, Safina felt she was stronger now than ever before.

She next faces either local comeback queen Jelena Dokic or Russian 29th seed Alisa Kelybanova, who play later Sunday.