JJ's Miracle Second Set Comeback
Published May 28, 2013 12:01
PARIS, France - Marion Bartoli wasn't the only player who pulled off a miracle at Roland Garros on Tuesday - Jelena Jankovic also achieved the unthinkable in the second set of her all-star encounter with Daniela Hantuchova, coming back from a 5-0 deficit to close out the match in straight sets.
After tucking the first set away, 6-4, Jankovic watched on as Hantuchova's elegant game caught fire, winning her the first five games of the second set. But the No.18-seeded Serb never surrendered, fighting off six set points - one at 1-5, two at 3-5 and three more at 4-5 - to draw even, and then even came back from 4-2 down to win the ensuing tie-break and close the match out, 64 76(7).
Jankovic and Hantuchova are two of 66 players in the history of the WTA to reach the Top 5, with Jankovic going as high as No.1 in 2008 and 2009 and Hantuchova peaking at No.5 in 2003.
Other seeded winners included No.16 seed Dominika Cibulkova, who beat Lesia Tsurenko, 61 64; No.27 seed Yaroslava Shvedova, who beat Coco Vandeweghe, 60 36 62; and No.31 seed Alizé Cornet, who came from 4-1 down in the first set and beat Maria Joao Koehler in straights, 75 62.
Cornet is fresh off winning her third WTA title in Strasbourg, which is just 500 kilometers away.
"She's young and plays well, and she made some winners against me and hurt me, but I managed to turn things around, turn the rhythm around," Cornet said. "I don't know how, but I just tried to focus point by point. It was a relief because I wasn't playing very well but I won in straight sets."
The French No.2 was asked about her week in Strasbourg, and if it tired her out for the big one.
"Strasbourg is really nice, almost like a family feeling - there are a lot of people in the crowd but around the city not very many people. It's really provincial and such a nice atmosphere. And I'm not tired - I'm happy I played so much there because it has really prepared me to play here at Roland Garros.
"Here, there's a lot of people everywhere. I'm used to it, though, and the crowd was right behind me, which is always a great feeling. I was a little bit nervous today because I want to do well here and also first rounds are never easy, but I'm happy I won and I'm very excited to play the next round."
Moving on down the country ladder, French No.3 Kristina Mladenovic was also a winner, suffering a mid-second set slump - she saw a 60 10 lead turn into 60 45 - but in the end she was just too sharp and strong for Lauren Davis, closing out the American teenager after a tight second set, 60 75.
"It was a good match - she was fighting tooth and nail for every point," Mladenovic said afterwards. "In the first set she didn't manage to find any answers to what I was doing, but she's very tenacious, she's very brave - she fought tooth and nail on each point and I really didn't even expect to have 6-0 in the first set, but such a difficult score in the second set was more telling of the match today.
"I just dug deep, held on and stuck with the game plan I had before the match."
Mladenovic was also asked what she thought about her next opponent, No.9 seed Sam Stosur.
"You're not letting me enjoy my first victory?" the Frenchwoman joked. "Well, it's the second round of a Grand Slam, and I didn't play a seed in the first round, so it's no surprise to play someone great in the second round. It's obviously going to be a difficult match. She has always played well here at the French Open, so I'm expecting a tough match. But I'm confident and looking forward to it."