Suárez Navarro, Jankovic to Vie for Marbella Title
Published April 11, 2009 12:00
MARBELLA, Spain - Spanish hope Carla Suárez Navarro will have a home ground advantage when she contests the first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour final of her career at the Andalucía Tennis Experience on Sunday, but the task at hand won't be easy. The 20-year-old's opponent in the championship match will be world No.4 Jelena Jankovic - far more experienced at such matters, but anxiously gunning for her first title of 2009 after an indifferent start to the season.
Fifth seed Suárez Navarro, playing the third Tour semifinal of her career, was first to advance from Saturday's semifinals, although she faltered when presented with a chance to serve for the match in the second set, and was consequently taken to three sets by seventh seed Sorana Cirstea. But, after falling behind an early break in the decider, the plucky baseliner applied her single-handed backhand to increasing effect, taking the match, 62 67(5) 62.
Jankovic, the second seed in Marbella, was also made to work hard by another Spanish claycourt specialist, fourth seed Anabel Medina Garrigues. The former world No.1 finished strongly, 75 62, in two hours and 15 minutes.
Medina Garrigues, who has breached the Top 20 in the rankings at the age of 26, broke Jankovic four times in the match. But the Serbian former world No.1, who went into the match with a 3-0 career advantage over her opponent, sealed victory with her seventh break of the Spaniard's serve from 15 attempts.
Jankovic easily won both prior meetings between Sunday's finalists, including a French Open quarterfinal victory on the red clay at Roland Garros last year. Of course, that event marked the Spaniard's breakthrough run, and she has continued to make headlines, most notably dispatching Venus Williams from the second round of the Australian Open. The pair's Marbella showdown promises to be a competitive tussle, not least because Jankovic has spent almost five hours on the court in her past two matches.