The great backhand down the line vs. a great forehand down the line. Ridiculous line calls. Perseverance of admirable proportions by both players. An umpire who said "deuce" so many times, it must have begun to sound like a nonsense word to her.
That description only begins to sum up the Toronto quarterfinal match between Alisa Kleybanova and 5th seed Jelena Jankovic. Only last night, Jankovic was on the court late, involved in a very close match against Kim Clijsters. But tonight's match may have made that one seem tame. Those who bought a ticket to see it got their money's worth and a whole lot more.
Alisa Kleybanova, who hit 13 aces in the course of the 3-hour and 16-minute affair, was relentless. She had five set points in the first set, but Jankovic took it in a tiebreak (10-8). In the second set, Jankovic saved five more set points, only to see Kleybanova win on her sixth set point, also in a tiebreak (9-7).
I was exhausted, just watching them, and I can only imagine how they felt. Kleybanova's vulnerable lower back troubled her, and she got some treatment from the trainer. While that was going on, Jankovic saw the trainer for her knee. In the third set, Kleybanova broke early. There were nine deuces in the second game, and it looked as though the match might go far into the night. But although Jankovic continued to play well, the Russian was able to find another level and break her again, this time at love. Serving at 2-5, Jankovic set up a shot that looked like the game was going to deuce, but an unlucky (her first) netcord bounce took the ball out of the court, and she was broken for a third and final time.
Kleybanova's 6-7, 7-6, 6-2 victory was a hard-fought one. No one comes back from near-defeat better than Jankovic, and Kleybanova had to start from scratch over and over. It didn't appear to bother her. Many of the rallies were thrilling, and Kleybanova's shot-making was most impressive. She faces the winner of the Sharapova-Radwanska match in the semifinals.