40 LOVE Moments: JJ & Serena In Rome
Published April 06, 2013 12:00
ROME, Italy - On Friday, May 7, 2010, Jelena Jankovic made history in Rome. Having already beaten Venus Williams in the quarterfinals, she prevailed in an epic semifinal against Serena Williams to become the only player ever to defeat both Williams sisters at the same tournament on clay.
The match was a thriller - after the two players split sets Williams built a 5-3 lead in the third, and even held a match point at 5-4 in the third, missing a backhand long. Williams then built a 5-2 lead in the third set breaker but Jankovic just wouldn't go away, eventually taking the match, 46 63 76(5).
"I was down quite a bit in the third set. I just fought her hard," Jankovic said after the match. "She was serving at match point and was up in the tie-break too, but I tried to stay as positive as I could. I really did my best. A lot of matches throughout my career I have saved match points and then won the match. I know you just have to believe in yourself and know the match is not over until it is over.
"Beating two Williams sisters in two days is amazing. I'm very proud of myself."
"I really should have won. It was like I hadn't played since January 1942," Williams said that day. "I can't beat myself up over it though. I just came back after not playing a match since this January. I don't know if that's match toughness or not. I am looking forward to Madrid, that much I do know."
There have been eight occasions where a player has beaten both Williams sisters at the same event, but Jankovic's feat in Rome was the only time it happened on clay. The other seven times all happened on hardcourts, with only one player doing it twice (Kim Clijsters) and five players doing it once each (Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario, Steffi Graf, Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport and Justine Henin).
That win over Williams was one of Jankovic's three career wins over reigning World No.1s, the other two coming against Dinara Safina the year before - she is 3-12 against top-ranked players overall.
Fast forward to the present, and on Saturday, Jankovic won her semifinal match in Charleston to set up another meeting with Williams, who is the World No.1 now, too. What does she remember from Rome?
"I remember playing both of them - it lasted 24 hours," Jankovic recalled. "I played Venus in the quarters and won that match, 61 60. I don't know how I did that. Then I played Serena less than 24 hours later and won in three sets, 7-6 in the third. I was able to turn it around and win the match.
"It was an amazing match. It was a battle. We both played some great points. That day I was the better one - hopefully I can play some good tennis again tomorrow. I have to if I want to have a chance."
And that was actually the pair's only previous meeting on clay - could history repeat itself?