Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Shaky Sharapova defeats injured Jankovic to reach finals in Melbourne

I have been waiting the entire tournament for Jelena Jankovic, who has been suffering from a thigh injury, to have her back go out. Finally, it did, while she was playing her semifinal match against Maria Sharapova. Jankovic looked pitifully sluggish and weak in the first set, and I suspected an injury. Her now-chronic back injury was giving her trouble again, and when she saw the trainer, I thought she might retire. She did not, and there were moments when she had full mobility, but they were few and far between.

In the meantime, Sharapova was serving poorly, in Sharapova terms, which was one of the keys for Jankovic to win the match. Sharapova had a 55 first serve percentage and a 50 second serve percentage--quite low for her. She did serve eight aces, however, and had little trouble fending off an injured opponent.

Jankovic's mother says that no one has been able to successfully treat Jankovic's back, but Jankovic intends to seek other specialists. The good news, according to her mother, is that Jankovic is going to get a service coach, something she needs if she is going to compete at the top level of women's tennis. She has the best defensive game on the tour, but without a better serve, she will continue to struggle against top players. This was the same problem Martina Hingis had during her comeback, and one hopes that Jankovic will follow through, and therefore lift the level of her game.

Final score: Sharapova def. Jankovic, 6-3, 6-1

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