Friday, April 16, 2010

Hantuchova stops Jankovic in Charleston

Daniela Hantuchova was tired this morning, after playing for two and three-quarter hours on a hot court late yesterday afternoon at the Family Circle Cup. Nevertheless, her match was scheduled first, and it appeared that she might well fade away when 2nd seed Jelena Jankovic broke her four times to take the first set 6-1.

The crowd was in for a surprise, though. Hantuchova, the 8th seed, broke seed Jankovic straight away in the second set. Jankovic broke back in the third game, and the fourth game was a mini-thriller all to itself, featuring a series of deuce points, and exchanges of both forehand and backhand down-the-line shots. Hantuchova also hit two aces in that game, and eventually held. If ever there were a turning point, that was it. The 8th seed, steadily gaining momentum and confidence, won the second set 6-3, setting up a tense final set which began with a break by Jankovic.

But Hantuchova would not go away. Though both players hit a number of backhand winners, Hantuchova hit them flat and right on the lines during big moments, taking away Jankovic's opportunities to engage her in really long rallies. Hantuchova served for the match at 5-3, and faced a break point at 30-40. That break point was saved when Jankovic hit a forehand out. Hantuchova then earned a match point, and converted it with a forehand winner.

Hantuchova, of course, is not known for mental toughness, but her comeback in this match was impressive, and it clearly got into Jankovic's head. Hantuchova hit a total of 39 winners, and was successful at the net. She went for more than her opponent did, and she was rewarded with a 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory. Her opponent in the semifinals will be 4th seed Sam Stosur.

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