When The Seeds Come Marching In...
Published March 11, 2011 12:00
INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - Top 10 players made a scintillating start at the $4.5-million BNP Paribas Open on Friday, with the four in action going 4-0. And three of those top stars were on complete cruise control in the desert.
Jelena Jankovic, ranked and seeded No.6 this fortnight, was the first of the marquee quartet to advance, breaking serve five times and never even facing a break point herself during a 62 61 win over American Coco Vandeweghe.
"I didn't know what to expect. I hadn't played her in a long time, but I knew she had a big serve," said Jankovic, who converted on five of nine break points in the match. "She served well and hits her first shot well, but there wasn't a lot of rhythm out there. The points were very short so all I had to do was get the ball in play and kind of wait for my chances, and that's basically what I did today."
"Some of the shots she'd get back, sometimes I thought, 'Hey, that was a winner,'" Vandeweghe joked. "But Top 10 players are going to do that. That's what I'm striving to be, so I have to be prepared to play more consistently."
Jankovic, the defending champion in Indian Wells, went 7-13 in a six-month span from last July to this January, but has come alive over the last four weeks, compiling a 10-3 record in making the semifinals of Dubai and Doha and the final of Monterrey. With her win Friday she has now won 11 of her last 14 matches.
"I was struggling with my movement and I had no confidence in my game. I was a shadow of myself," Jankovic said on her struggles. "In Dubai I beat Stosur and Kanepi. I had lost to both those girls the last time I played them, so it was nice to get those wins. I felt my game was starting to really pick up. The last couple of weeks I've been feeling more and more confident. I hope I continue like that."
Kim Clijsters and Vera Zvonareva, also former champions at this event, won too. Clijsters, a champion here in 2003 and 2005 and this year's No.2 seed, beat Alla Kudryavtseva in 52 minutes, 62 60, while Zvonareva, a winner here in 2009 and this year's No.3 seed, regrouped after letting a 63 51 lead go and eventually came from 0-3 in the tie-break to beat Timea Bacsinszky, 63 76(4).