Jankovic stuns Serena to reach Rome tennis final

Seventh seed Jelena Jankovic upset world number one Serena Williams in a three-set marathon that lasted 2hr 47min on Friday to reach the final of the Rome Open at the Foro Italico.

Updated: May 08, 2010, 09:25 AM IST

Rome: Seventh seed Jelena Jankovic upset world number one Serena Williams in a three-set marathon that lasted 2hr 47min on Friday to reach the final of the Rome Open at the Foro Italico.

Jankovic came back from a set down to win a tense and controversial third set tie-break and book a title match after a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) triumph.

She will face world number 26 Maria Martinez-Sanchez of Spain in the final after she befuddled former world number one Ana Ivanovic of Serbia in a dominant 6-4, 6-2 victory.

Jankovic, who is aiming for her third Rome crown, having won here in 2007 and 2008, became only the seventh player to beat both Williams sisters in the same tournament after thrashing Venus 6-1, 6-0 in the quarters.

"To beat two Williams sisters in two days is amazing so I`m really proud of myself," she said.

This match was an absolute thriller that swung one way and then the other and kept fans on the edge of their seats throughout.

Williams had a match point on her own serve and led by a mini-break in the third set tie-break and afterwards she said she was struggling to believe that she lost.

"I almost feel like I won that match, I might turn up (on Saturday) and play because I don`t feel like I lost," she joked.

"I wasn`t playing the points right. I can`t be really upset, but I am.”

"I feel I should have won, I could have won but I can`t beat myself up over it, I`ve just come back and hadn`t played a match since January."
In the final set tie-break Williams upset Jankovic by holding her hand up and asking her opponent to wait after the Serbian had thrown the ball up to serve on a crucial point with the American leading by a mini-break.

"I was just getting ready to serve and I was serving and all of a sudden she wasn`t ready," said Jankovic.

"For me when the server comes to play the receiver has to be ready -- that`s the rules.”

"But unfortunately I had to hit another serve, regroup and refocus because I didn`t want to waste my energy on that."
Jankovic did hold her nerve to win that point and broke back when Williams, the 2002 winner here, netted a backhand.

At 5-5 the top seed then went long with a backhand from inside the service box to hand Jankovic match-point, which she converted when Williams netted a forehand.

It was a nervous opening from both players as the first four games went against the server.

Williams held to steady the flow of breaks and went on to take the set when some positive attacking play ended with a driven volley winner to break for 6-4.

The second set was going on serve until Williams played some sloppy games at the end, dropping her last two service games to love, even handing Jankovic the second set on a double fault.

The Australian Open champion went a break up three times in the decider but every time Jankovic clung on and turned the match into a real war of attrition.

Twice Williams served for the match, at 5-4 and 6-5, while Jankovic saved a match point at 5-4 after a lucky return off the frame landed in.

Ivanovic was a shadow of the player who had seemed back to her old self in knocking out three seeds in a row to reach this stage.

She simply could not handle Martinez-Sanchez`s serve-and-volley game and the Spaniard enjoyed particular success with her drop-shots.

Ivanovic was broken five times throughout the match and never looked capable of dealing with the spins, slices and variety of Martinez-Sanchez`s game.

Bureau Report