May 8, 2010

Jankovic edges Serena in 3-Set Thriller!

ROME -- Jelena Jankovic defeated Serena Williams Friday at the Italian Open 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5). The top-ranked Williams squandered a match point and acknowledged having an "an apple in my throat." Williams, who won in Rome in 2002, was playing in her first tournament since a three-month layoff because of a knee injury. She had been sidelined since winning the Australian Open in January.

"I can't beat myself up over it," she said. "I just came back." Williams said she simply wasn't playing the points right. "I feel like I should have won, could have won," she said. "I think I had an apple in my throat, but it is what it is."

Jankovic routed Venus Williams 6-0, 6-1 in the quarterfinals Thursday. She is the seventh player to beat the sisters in the same tournament, joining Aranxta Sanchez Vicario, Steffi Graf, Martina Hingis, Kim Clijsters, Lindsay Davenport and Justine Henin. Clijsters has done it twice. "To beat both Williams sisters in two days is really amazing," Jankovic said. "I'm really proud of myself. It doesn't happen too often."

Serena Williams served for the match twice in the third set and was broken both times. She hit a backhand long on match point at 5-4. Williams took a 5-2 lead in the tiebreak but hit a return long and missed four consecutive shots to send Jankovic into her second final of the year.

With Williams up 5-3, Jankovic served an ace but Williams had her hand up and the chair umpire ruled that the American had called time and Jankovic had to serve again. That drew an argument from the Serb and whistles from the crowd in the Foro Italico's new 10,500-seat stadium, which was about only half full.

Jankovic thought her ace should have counted in the tiebreak. "For me, when the server comes to the line the receiver had to be ready. That's the rule, right?" Jankovic said. "I just had to regroup and refocus. I didn't want to waste my energy -- and that's what I basically did. Overall, it was good for me to be able to stay strong mentally."

Jankovic and Williams had a tough time finding their rhythm at the start, with Williams the first to hold serve to go up 3-2. Williams then stepped up her attack, trying to keep the points short with approach shots to the corners to set up easy putaways.

Williams won the first set with a big forehand return of serve that Jankovic shanked way off court. Williams, however, began to struggle on the longer points and Jankovic broke at love to go up 4-3 in the second set when Williams committed unforced errors in succession. Williams double-faulted to concede the second set. Williams finished the match with 48 unforced errors to Jankovic's 35.

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