There are certain players on the tour who sometimes rise to the occasion, meet their potential, and play truly great matches. One of those players is Iveta Benesova, whose lefty serve is never something to take lightly. Tonight in Montreal, she was simply all over 1st seed Jelena Jankovic, maintaining her aggression and refusing to give Jankovic any type of rhythm. In fact, the way Benesova defended was positively Jankovician, to borrow a term from the WTA Backspinner.
Fans who really know women's tennis know that Benesova can crack mentally, and that Jankovic is very good at coming from behind. After the Czech player stayed tough enough to win the first set in a tiebreak, she immediately held, and then broke Jankovic. Then she held again, but when Jankovic brought the second set score to 1-3, I thought "okay, it's coming." Soon, it was 3-all, and this would be the time in the match when the momentum would turn--only it didn't. Well, maybe for a moment, when Benesova had trouble holding to go to 4-3. And still, I thought the momentum would turn.
But Benesova broke Jankovic again, and then--in a scenario I could never have predicted, even after watching the entire match--Benesova held at love to win the whole thing 7-6, 6-3. This was a skillful, gutsy performance from the world number 75. After she waved to the crowd, the qualifier (who has now played five matches) held her hand up to her mouth, as if to say "I can't believe I just did that."
But she did.
Jankovic, who hit 25 winners but made 30 unforced errors, may still be suffering the effects of a sprained ankle, but there is really nothing that can take away from her opponent's performance. As for the world number 3, she needs to get herself together for the U.S. Open.