Monday, January 21, 2008

JJ Express rolls over Williams

Both were injured. One showed up looking like her old self, despite days of heavy scrapping; the other showed up not looking like herself at all. It was all Jelena Jankovic in the first set of her Australian Open quarterfinal against defending champion Serena Williams. Williams was sluggish, out of sorts, and unable to find her killer serve. Jankovic, on the other hand, looked surprisingly fresh.

In the second set, Williams seemed to find her spirit, lifting her serve and forcing a lot more issues. But she continued to make more errors than Jankovic, and Jankovic continued to play the kind of relentless defense that is the hallmark of her game. She also did a very good job of returning the Williams serve. Williams broke Jankovic the first time she served for the match, held, and then brought the tenth game of the second set to deuce, only to double-fault on her serve. Jankovic then won the match on her first match point when Williams hit a return wide.

Jankovic has played the entire tournament with a bad hip. Williams was treated earlier in the day for a thigh issue, and both players received treatment (Williams for a foot blister) during the second set. Those who watched Williams practice said she was feeling out of sorts then, also.

Final score: Jankovic def. Williams, 6-3, 6-4


Anonymous said...

I am SO pleased for Jelena, Diane! Her smile can light up a tennis court and interview room alike. Her amazing gets punctuated by wicked down-the-line drives keep me perched right on the edge of my seat.

Now she just has to pull for Maria in a few hours. Otherwise, 0-10 won't look pretty on her resume. But for now, a huge Well Done to the Queen of Defense!

Diane said...

For various reasons, having to do with service games, psychology and probably my relative ignorance, I'm not so sure JJ wouldn't be better off facing Henin in the semis.

At any rate, she has redeemed her reputation (though I think she is still in trouble if she doesn't change her ways). I hated cheering against Serena, but a fan's gotta do what a fan's gotta do...well done, indeed!

Anonymous said...

I usually agree with you, but let's see... JJ won her last match with Sharapova. Two others she lost in 3 sets and one she retired in the first set. JJ lost all of her 9 matches against JH. She has currently lost 8 straight sets. Hmmm, who do I want her to play? :>

I may be proven silly, but here is the problem I see from viewing their last four matches. Scarily, Henin got markedly better (than when their matches all seemed to end 6-4 in the 3rd) and she established a psychological stamp on Jelena that JJ has yet to put a dent in. Also, in tennis terms, how does she hurt Justine, who has a lethal forehand to go with an equally effective backhand, who boasts a substantially better serve, who is perhaps the only player outside of Venus who matches JJ's defense and court coverage, and who also thrives on long rallies and brilliant shotmaking? I think the answer is that JJ has to hope Henin hurts herself by serving up a ton of doubles. I don't see that happening because JH doesn't fear Jankovic's return the way she has to with Venus, Serena or Maria.

On the other hand, JJ has the same chance against Sharapova that she had against Serena, based on her remarkable consistency and ability to win the long rallies. If Maria plays lights out, she wins. If not, Jelena could move on.

But we can agree to disagree, Diane. In any case, I would love to see the two Serbs in the final. Beating Ana would be another psychological hurdle for Jankovic, but the match would be a terrific story and loads of fun. Go JJ!

Diane said...

Though I cannot really disagree with anything you say--because you are correct--I just think that Sharapova, right now, is less apt to have a major match lapse, and that her serve is simply too good. we are!...with a Jankovic-Sharapova match.

ken said...

What does "out of sorts" really mean? I was so confused as to why, when Pam Shriver went to Serena's box, they seemed to know nothing about what was up. I know perhaps they were protecting her privacy or being careful (rightly so) of the media but to say they didn't really know what her injury was just seems odd.
Serena is not the type to have mental breakdowns and being out of sorts seems like a mental issue. We've certainly seen her press on through seemingly more serious injuries.

Diane said...

Serena had a blister, which she said was nothing, and she had a thigh issue, too. But it looked to me like there was something else going on: Serena was just not there. I have seen Serena go away before (commentators seem to forget that), and Shriver correctly reminded everyone that defending a title is a bugaboo for Serena.

In the second set, she was much more present, but she was outplayed.