Jankovic Back On Track in Andalucía
Published April 12, 2009 12:00
MARBELLA, Spain - It didn't come easy but Jelena Jankovic won her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title of the season at the inaugural Andalucía Tennis Experience, surviving a marathon in the quarterfinals and taking out Spain's Top 2 in the semis and final to wrap up the glorious return-to-form week.
Jankovic, who was the second seed behind Serena Williams at the event, was coming off a disappointing start to the season, including losing her No.1 ranking after an early loss at the Australian Open and dropping her opening matches at Indian Wells and Miami. On the red clay of Marbella she turned things around, cruising through her first two matches of the week then winning three straight marathons to take the title, battling for over two hours to beat Roberta Vinci in the quarterfinals, 36 63 76(6), and Spanish No.1 Anabel Medina Garrigues in the semifinals, 75 62.
Carla Suárez Navarro, Spain's No.2, had made her way into her first Tour final on the other half of the draw, beating Williams' conqueror - Czech Klara Zakopalova - along the way. She gave Jankovic mighty resistance with her gritty slow court game, extending rallies with her glamorous groundstrokes and tireless retrieving. But the world No.4 wouldn't lose her cool, even after going down a break early in the third set, taking the match - and the title - by a see-saw 63 36 63 scoreline.
This was Jankovic's 10th career singles title on the Tour, and half of those have come on clay, beginning with her first ever title at Budapest in 2004. She has also collected large titles on the dirt at Charleston (2007) and Rome (2007 and 2008).
"I know I haven't been playing well the last three months but this win has given me back the confidence I need," Jankovic said. "It's my 10th title, and just the beginning of the clay season, so I hope to continue in this way. The tournament has been wonderful here. I really hope to come back next year."
Suárez Navarro continued to show the kind of promise she displayed in surprise runs to the quarterfinals of two of her first four Grand Slam events played, at Roland Garros last year (where she fell to Jankovic) and the Australian Open earlier this year (where she shocked Venus Williams in the early rounds).
"Despite my defeat I leave this tournament very satisfied," Suárez Navarro said. "Listening to the audience cheering my name was an incredible experience."
World No.1 Serena Williams' defeat to the No.95-ranked Zakopalova was a tough encore to her loss to Victoria Azarenka in the final of the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami a few days earlier, where she was also hindered by a nagging leg injury. Zakopalova got her second and best career Top 10 win, having beaten a No.7-ranked Monica Seles in the early rounds of the Australian Open in 2003.
Another player making noise was Sorana Cirstea, who was 0-6 on the season before Marbella, but made it all the way to the semifinals as the No.7 seed before falling to Suárez Navarro in three sets. The Romanian rising star upset No.3 seed Kaia Kanepi in a nail-biter in the quarterfinals, 7-5 in the third set.
Poland's Klaudia Jans and Alicja Rosolska won the doubles title, going against their No.2 seeding and taking out No.1 seeds Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual in the final, 63 63. Jans collected her first Tour title of any kind; Rosolska had won one Tour title before, also in doubles, with Latvia's Liga Dekmeijere last season at another clay court event in Viña del Mar. Medina Garrigues and Ruano Pascual are one of the top doubles teams around: among their four titles together is last year's Roland Garros crown.
"I'm very happy with today's result. This was my fifth final and my second final of the year but I never won a doubles title on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, so today was a dream come true," Jans beamed. "We knew it would be tough to beat the Spanish team. They are a very good team but somehow we were quite confident. Our game has been improving and we knew we can do it."
"This is the biggest success for us as a team," Rosolska said. "It is the first final we won together. We have been in a few finals before but this feels great. We came on the court knowing we had nothing to lose and we stayed focused the entire match. We played well and we did it!"
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