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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Number four seed Jelena Jankovic survived a feisty match against Croatia's Mirjana Lucic with a 6-4 3-6 6-2 victory at the U.S. Open Thursday that booked the Serb's ticket into the third round.
The pair had repeated spats with the umpire over a host of contested line calls during their two-hour two-minute match on another steamy day inside Louis Armstrong Stadium.
"I'm just happy to get through - she gave me a really hard time," a tired Jankovic told reporters afterwards. "It's a step forward from the first round. I think I played much better ... but I have to pick it up. I'm working on it."
Prior to the contest, Lucic described being at the U.S. Open, only her second grand slam appearance since 2002, as "incredible."
But the sentiment failed to sum up her mood as she fell a set behind in her first ever meeting with Jankovic as both players struggled to hold serve.
Jankovic, the longest-serving member of the women's top 10 having been there since February 2007, looked confident going into the second set as Lucic received a medical timeout for an apparent blister on her right Achilles.
But the enforced interval appeared to help the 1999 Wimbledon semi-finalist's cause and she leveled the match and let out a roar in front of the sun-baked crowd.
Lucic moved ahead in the match as she broke to go 3-2 clear in the final set but it proved to be her last game of the match as Jankovic, a finalist at Flushing Meadows in 2008, won four consecutive games.
"I know I lost but I still really enjoyed the match and just being back," said Lucic, whose promising early career was curtailed by an abusive father, injuries and financial problems.
"I'm not going away. I want to win big titles and, I don't want to sound arrogant, but this is the reason why I've come back. If I thought I couldn't do that, I wouldn't be wasting my time."
Editing by Frank Pingue