By Erik Gudris/ Sunday, October 6, 2013
Serena Williams didn't let a sore back stop her from claiming her 10th title of the season in Beijing over Serbia's Jelena Jankovic.
Photo Credit: AP
Whenever Jelena Jankovic and Serena Williams meet each other on the court, drama often seems to follow. That certainly was the case Sunday during the China Open finals in Beijing, but the cause this time was likely the very long season both women have played through this year.
Jankovic is one of the few active players with a decent record against the world No. 1. Having beaten Williams four times in 10 previous meetings, Jankovic came into the finals knowing she had the game to test the top seed. She proved that in the opening game when she held a break point on Williams before the American held for 1-0.
Displaying her trademark firepower, Williams opened up a quick 3-0 lead. What was new, however, was seeing Williams move forward to attack mid-court balls early and often as she tried to finish things off up at net. This may have been to cut off Jankovic's own formidable baseline prowess, but Williams, nursing a sore back, also wanted to keep the points as short as possible.
And 17 winners later, Williams secured the opening set 6-2.
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As a frustrated and vocal Jankovic tried to get herself going, she found support from the crowd, who wanted to see a tighter contest. Upping the power on her own serve, Jankovic held for 1-1 in the second set.
That's when the drama began. Williams, who held 30-0 in her next service game, soon found herself at deuce. Suddenly down break point, Williams fired an ace that just clipped the outside of the line. Another break point loomed and Williams fired an ace, this time down the center.
But instead of celebrating, Williams doubled over and didn't move. Finally standing erect, she looked on the verge of tears as she appeared to endure another back spasm as she had in her last match against Agnieszka Radwanska. Williams soon netted a forehand down her third break point and it looked like a momentum change was at hand.
Everyone waited for Williams to call for the trainer. But instead, it was Jankovic who was asking for help as she soon took an off-court medical time out to deal with a hip issue. That left Williams to sit on the sideline and muse about what was happening in a match that looked like hers for the taking.
When play resumed, Williams resumed control of the match. She broke Jankovic right back and then held her own serve at love for 3-2. Jankovic, perhaps feeling the pressure to keep forcing the issue, missed her own signature shot, the down-the-line backhand, three times in a row to hand Williams a 4-2 lead.
Williams struck another ace in the next game for 5-2 and went back to pressuring Jankovic on the Serbian's serve. Jankovic fought off two match points against her, but Williams soon held a third. A final wayward forehand from Jankovic allowed Williams to close out the convincing, if sometimes dramatic, 6-2, 6-2 victory.
A total of 29 winners and 29 unforced errors came off of Williams' racquet while Jankovic struck just nine winners but 24 unforced.
Both women shared a smiling, friendly exchange up at net, with both likely thankful that they could rest up their bodies before the WTA Championships in a few weeks. Williams is already qualified while Jankovc, thanks to her run to this week's finals, is now in eighth place in the race and looks poised to book her spot in Istanbul.
"I really love tennis so much and it's fans like the ones here in China who are so exciting to come to," Williams said during the trophy ceremony. "The fans make me want to play, and they're so great here, so coming here is such a great opportunity."
For Williams, Beijing marks her 10th title of the season and her 56th overall. That puts Williams seventh on the all-time WTA title winners list.
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