Sunday, August 16, 2009
Jankovic finds redemption and takes home Cincinnati trophy
"I had to bring some excitement back to tennis," Jelena Jankovic joked when ESPN commentators remarked that her Cincinnati win today put her back into the mix of serious U.S. Open contenders. Though relishing her drama queen reputation, a more serious Jankovic talked about the problems she has had this year--getting her body back to its optimum state after having bulked up too much, and dealing with her mother's serious illness.
Jankovic was to have parted company with coach Ricardo Sanchez, but that didn't happen, and today, she heeded his advice to be aggressive and dictate play. Of course, dictating play is not Jankovic's style, but as she said in the post-match interview, had she engaged in lengthy cross-court rallies with her opponent, Dinara Safina, "she would have blown me off the court."
Instead, Jankovic focused on her serve, which has continued to improve, at least in the first-serve category. Playing a very clean match in which she committed only 16 unforced errors, Jankovic moved Safina all over the court, and waited for opportunities to use her signature backhand-down-the-line or to force Safina to mishit the ball.
Unfortunately, the world number 1 didn't need that much help. Having lost the first set, she then went into a mental meltdown, the likes of which we have seen before. Only yesterday, she looked brilliant in her semifinal match, but today, her error-strewn play made it easy for her opponent to close the match.
For her part, 5th seed Jankovic summed up the match in an interview: "I played some great tennis, and it's been a while since I've done that."
Trophy ceremonies for WTA matches are rarely shown on ESPN, though almost all ATP trophy ceremonies are shown. Today, there was some time left, so it looked as though we might get to see the ceremony, but just as it began, ESPN went to a commercial. I was able to see the ceremony on Tennis TV, but most ESPN viewers were once again denied the pleasure of seeing a WTA event from start to finish.