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Jelena Jankovic Beats Venus Williams In A Rollercoaster

By Anton Lagani, Lawn Tennis Correspondent, Posted: Saturday, October 4, 2008 10:15am PST USA
Jelena Jankovic Beats Venus Williams In Rollercoaster Stuttgart Semifinal, Lawn Tennis Magazine STUTTGART--( American Venus Williams fell to one of her trickiest opponents Saturday at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix semifinals as she lost to Jelena Jankovic of Serbia 6-7(8-10), 7-5, 6-2 after taking an early lead.

Prior to today Williams had trailed Jankovic 3-4 head to head and had also lost their last meeting this spring at Rome on clay. The two players had never met before on an indoor surface however, a surface which might have favored Williams' power and athleticism more than Jankovic's more defensive and varied game.

Williams started the match aggressively but dropped serve to fall behind 1-2 after Jankovic hit an overhead winner. Then on her 7th breakpoint of the match, Williams broke serve to reach 2-2.

Williams' power was met with a mix of aggression and spin from Jankovic as both players held their remaining service games to reach a first set tiebreaker.

In the tiebreaker, Williams recovered from a 2-3 deficit to go ahead 6-5 behind consistent play while Jankovic would commit several uncharacteristic errors. Two Williams' forehand errors would erase her first two setpoints before Williams would save a setpoint against her with an unreturnable serve down the tee to reach 8-8.

Williams, who'd dropped two tiebreakers 7-6(8-6), 7-6(9-7) to her sister Serena Williams last month at the US Open quarterfinals, smartly kept more balls in play today as Jankovic hit two backhands long to end the set.

Jelena Jankovic of Serbia | Photo by Matthias Schrader/AP
Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, Stuttgart, Germany, Lawn Tennis Magazine
That Williams had until this point been able to stay in longer points with a consistent forehand had been a major key of the match.

In set two, Williams lost her serve fall behind 1-3 as she hit a backhand long. Williams broke back to reach 3-3 before saving three setpoints on her serve at 5-6. But after hitting consistently powerful forehands all day, Williams netted a forehand to give Jankovic a fourth setpoint. A forehand down the line passing shot winner from Jankovic sent the match into a decisive set.

In the third set, a more confident Jankovic cleaned up her game as Williams, looking more and more tired, began to commit an increasing number of forehand errors. Jankovic broke serve to reach 2-0 following two Williams forehand errors. More Williams forehand errors awarded Jankovic a 3-0 lead as Jankovic had taken her fifth game in a row.

That Williams had until this point been able to stay in longer points with a consistent forehand had been a major key of the match. In fact Williams several times earlier ran around her backhand to hit forehand winners in a measure of her comfort level with her forehand in set one and early in set two.

A Williams ace down the tee ended Jankovic's run of games won as Williams put herself on the scoreboard at 1-3. However after missing several groundstrokes, Williams served down 1-4. Williams held serve to pull to 2-4 but was surprisingly only a shadow now of the player she was in set one. A final forehand error ended the match for Williams as Jankovic had survived a formidable opponent.

In the championship final Sunday, Jankovic takes on Nadia Petrova of Russia. Petrova advanced with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in today's first semifinal. The Tennis Channel will broadcast the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix final live Sunday at 7:00am EST USA.

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