Szavay Stuns Jankovic, Wins Beijing
Published September 23, 2007 12:00
BEIJING, China - Agnes Szavay continued her assault up the game's elite in Beijing on Sunday, pulling off a comeback win over Jelena Jankovic to take home her second and biggest Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title and book her spot in the world's Top 20.
With most of the attention on the bottom half of the draw, which featured Jankovic and a recently-returned Lindsay Davenport, among others, the No.6-seeded Szavay was able to cruise into her third final of the summer without losing a set. That trend didn't hold true as she battled No.2 seed Jankovic.
Jankovic came out firing, racing out to a 3-1 lead and earning several chances for 4-1. Szavay fought back and managed to get the opening set back on serve. She then got out to 5-0 in the tie-break - even holding set points at 6-4, 6-5 and 7-6 - but her higher-ranked opponent saved each one and claimed a one set lead.
"In the first set, she started to play better in the tie-break, and I was just too passive," Szavay said. "I missed some balls and she started playing really well."
Having pulled off an unlikely first set comeback Jankovic was full of confidence, and she burst out to a 5-1 lead in the second set, and brought up a match point on her return, with Szavay serving, 30-40. Then came the second serve ace.
"When she had match point, I wasn't thinking about losing the match," Szavay added, "I was just thinking about winning that point."
The match turned on a dime after that gutsy play, as the Hungarian reeled off nine consecutive games to surge ahead 3-0 in the third set. She squandered two match points and was broken while serving for the match at 5-1 in the decider, but broke Jankovic right back in the next game to complete a 67(7) 75 62 victory.
"When I had match point, everything happened so quickly," Jankovic said. "She started playing so fast. I lost my focus, and as the match went on it just became worse. I broke down in the third set. I was just a different player."
"At the end of the match I was a little bit nervous," Szavay said. "It can be hard to finish the match, especially when you're playing against the No.3 player in the world. But I'm happy to finish this with a title win."
The two-hour, 55-minute marathon capped another title run for Szavay, whose recent jump up the rankings includes her maiden victory at the clay court stop in Palermo. Having begun the year ranked just inside the Top 200, the 18-year-old had risen to No.23 coming in, and will now rise to No.20.
"This is the biggest success for me so far in my career," Szavay continued. "I was happy I was able to turn today's match around from a bad position. It always feels great to win a tournament, especially after coming back from match point."
Jankovic, who has now lost her last three finals, contemplated her opportunities.
"I had so many opportunities I didn't take and my opponent just wasn't making any mistakes. I let the match go in a different direction. I should have been done but instead I was down in the third set."
But with Szavay only beginning to play regularly on the Tour earlier this year, it was not unheard of that the Serbian world No.3 be unassuming of her talents.
"I didn't know what to expect; we had never played," Jankovic added. "She has been improving and moved up the rankings so quickly. She's young and has huge potential. We will be hearing a lot more from her, I'm sure."
Neither player ran into a seed en route to the final, but Jankovic did deal with a form player, namely Lindsay Davenport. Having gone 8-0 since coming back to action in Bali last week, Davenport put up a valiant fight but ultimately fell, 63 75.
"Everything now is for the joy of - it doesn't matter how I do, everything is just a bonus. I have a great life off the court and I'm very fortunate I'm able to come back and play. It's amazing how much life can change in a year. I'm having a great time. I'm just enjoying every minute in this second go-around."
Also making lots of noise this week was China's own Peng Shuai, who bounced seeded players Martina Hingis and Amélie Mauresmo - her fourth Top 10 scalp - en route to her second straight China Open semifinal.
Chinese Taipei's Chuang Chia-Jung and Hsieh Su-Wei, the No.3 seeds, captured their first title as a team in the doubles event, defeating Chinese wildcards Han Xinyun and Xu Yi-Fan in Sunday's final, 76(2) 63. Chuang and Hsieh trailed 3-0 and 5-3 in the first set and 3-1 in the second set but stormed back both times and eventually cruised to victory. It was Chuang's fifth Tour doubles title (and first without Chan Yung-Jan by her side); Hsieh won her first Tour title of any kind.