Saturday, October 3, 2009

Jankovic retires, Sharapova wins Tokyo

I sat down tonight to watch what I thought would be three knock-down, drag-out sets of tennis in the Toray Pan Pacific Open final. Instead, I saw Jelena Jankovic go from serving very well to hardly serving, and then retiring with a wrist injury at 2-5 in the first set. It's possible that this injury is related to the arm injury Jankovic experienced in her semifinal match; she had her arme bandaged during the final. It is, of course, unknown whether the defending champion will be able to play next week in Beijing, but it certainly doesn't look good for her.

Sharapova has now won in Tokyo four times, and this latest victory is her 20th tour title. Sharapova's serve is looking much better now that she has dropped the abbreviated motion, and a big win like this one is bound to do her a world of good in the confidence department. She still isn't cranking out aces, and her second serve is far from what it was, but she can make those adjustments. I'm impressed by some of the finesse I see in her game these days.

For those of us (and especially those who are JJ fans) who were anticipating an exciting final, Tokyo was a disappointment. But it was still nice to see two struggling players continue their return to form. During the ceremony, Sharapova was as poised as always in her speaking, but she shuffled back and forth the entire time, as though she were standing on hot coals. A year and five months is a long time, and she may have been a bit out of practice.

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