Jankovic Storms To Victory in Beijing
Published September 28, 2008 12:00
BEIJING, China - Last week they played in Japan and this week in China, and the result couldn't have been more different. Svetlana Kuznetsova won a thriller in the quarterfinals of Tokyo but in the title match of Beijing it was all Jelena Jankovic, as the Serb cruised to her second Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title of the year at the China Open.
Kuznetsova came into the title match of the $600,000 tournament with a distinct edge in the pair's head-to-head. She had won four of their six previous meetings, including winning their last four matches on hardcourts; one of those came just last week in front a royal crowd that included Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito, where the Russian won, 26 75 75. But on Sunday it was Jankovic who came up the victor and in impressive fashion, breaking her opponent five out of nine times and losing serve just once herself during a one-hour, 14-minute, 63 62 rout.
"Svetlana beat me two times this year," said Jankovic, who lost to the Russian in the semifinals of Dubai and last week in Tokyo. "I was really motivated to get a win against her, and winning in two sets is very satisfying. Having played her last week I was really able to analyze my game against hers, and it worked."
"I'm disappointed. I wasn't moving to the ball or doing the right things on the court; I love playing here, so it was disappointing to not play well in the final," Kuznetsova said. "But she played well today. She was consistent as always. I think we both played better in Tokyo, but she played better than me today."
This was the second China Open final for Jankovic. She made the final last year and probably should have won the title, as she led by a set and 5-1 - and match point - over underdog Agnes Szavay. But Szavay hit a second serve ace to keep herself in the match and eventually pulled off one of the great comebacks of the year, winning 67(7) 75 62, and announcing herself in the Top 20 afterwards.
"I didn't think about last year today," Jankovic said. "This year is different. I'm a different player and this was a different atmosphere. I was thinking positively.
"I'm happy to win the title of course. I'm close to gaining the No.1 spot again, but I'm just trying to focus on playing one match at a time and working on my game. I would love to come back to No.1 and end the year at No.1."
Both Jankovic and Kuznetsova were hoping to turn the tides on dismal finals records. Jankovic came into the final having lost five of her last six while Kuznetsova had even more of a block, losing nine of her last 10. Thanks to her somewhat erratic play and Jankovic's good form, the Russian fell to 10 for 11 with the loss. Jankovic won her second title of the year, and the seventh of her career.
Jankovic had a tougher time reaching the final than Kuznetsova. She had a tussle against qualifier Aleksandra Wozniak in her opener, allowing the Canadian to rally from 5-2 down in the second set before winning, 63 75. In the quarterfinals against No.7 seed Daniela Hantuchova she saved two set points down 5-4 in the first set before finding her range and earning a 75 61 win, and in the semis she battled for two hours and 22 minutes to get past No.5 seed Vera Zvonareva, 64 26 64. Meanwhile, Kuznetsova didn't drop a set and spent significantly less time to get to the title match (3:46 to Jankovic's 5:21). But it didn't help in the end.
Apart from the two finalists, Zheng Jie was the headline grabber of the week, making it all the way to the semifinals with wins over Agnieszka Radwanska, Ai Sugiyama and Ana Ivanovic before falling to Kuznetsova in a tight two-setter on Saturday night. The Chinese's wins over Radwanska and Ivanovic served as her second and third career Top 10 wins, after her shock win over a No.1-ranked Ivanovic at Wimbledon (where she became the first Chinese to beat a No.1).
The doubles final, which followed the singles final on Sunday night, saw the unseeded, first-time pairing of Anabel Medina Garrigues and Caroline Wozniacki taking out Chinese duo Han Xinyun and Xu Yi-Fan, 61 63. Medina Garrigues won her fourth Tour doubles title of the year and the 12th of her career; Wozniacki picked up her first Tour doubles title. Han and Xu were playing their second Tour doubles final together, having been runners-up at this event last year.