(April 7th, 2013) -- It was an exchange of words and not groundstrokes between Serena Williams
and Jelena Jankovic
that proved the turning point in the finals of the Family Circle Cup in Charleston.
In only their second ever meeting on clay, Williams was still considered the heavy favorite despite holding a narrow 5-4 head to head lifetime advantage over the former No. 1 Jankovic. But though Williams started out serving at a high level as expected, Jankovic did so as well and she needed to as she later fought off five break points to hold for 2-all in a long game.
Jankovic maintained her momentum by breaking Williams to love in the next game. With a combination of clutch serving and deep penetrating groundstrokes, Jankovic soon took the first set with a trademark backhand winner.
But the match changed dramatically in the opening game of the second set. With Jankovic serving up 40-15, Williams stopped play and indicated she wasn't ready to receive serve. Jankovic, not happy with the disruption asked, "How long do I have to wait?" Williams bluntly replied, "Until I'm ready."
That exchange caused Jankovic to lose focus along with the next eight points. Down an early break, Jankovic ceded even more games when she fell behind 0-4 after sending a backhand long.
Williams, now playing with more ease from all angles of the court, soon found herself up 5-0. She did need four set points, but finally cracked a big serve to close out the 6-0 set and force a decider.
Jankovic did stop the rout by holding serve to open the first game in the third set, but it was clear the momentum was all with Williams who fired a forehand winner to break for 2-1. Now struggling physically, Jankovic's own serve lost some of its potency she had earlier on while Williams starting upping the MPH on her own.
Another break of serve for Williams elicited a loud roar from the World No. 1 as she then served for the title up 5-2. Jankovic fought off two match points in the next game but a well place smash from Serena at deuce set up a third championship point.
Williams made no mistake on the next point and wrapped up the 3-6, 0-6, 6-2 win to claim her third Family Circle Cup title. The handshake up at net was all smiles between the two players who complimented each other in the trophy ceremony.
Afterwards, Jankovic talked about the exchange she had with Williams and how it broke her focus.
"And then in that second set I had 40‑15 in that first game and then again on a couple of games in the beginning of that second set I had 40‑15, 40‑0 and it happened, I think, that I was ready to serve and she just like said that she wasn't ready, and since then I just ‑‑ it broke my momentum," said Jankovic. "I started make I a lot of mistakes and not making the first serves and serving with the second. And I gave her wins. You know, I brought her back into the match because I should have done something different."
Williams had a different take on the exchange and said she didn't feel that it was that big of a turning point in the match.
"I don't know what the turning point was. I mean I think after that I just got really relaxed and I was like, honestly, Serena, you gotta kind of chill out and not get crazy and just you win, great. If not, you're trying. She's playing really well and just do the best you can today."
Jankovic did take many positives away from her week in Charleston and playing the World No. 1 in a big final.
"I played quite well in the last month or so, winning Bogota, played semis of Miami and finals here. And I won a set against the No. 1 player in the world. I should have done a bit better. But it gives me a lot of motivation to just continue to work hard and my time will come."
As for Williams, who said who ESPN she didn't feel she even played the French Open last year due to her shock opening round loss, she is not focusing too far ahead on the upcoming clay court season.
"I focus on one tournament at a time, and you know, I did really well here last year, even better than this year and ended up not doing so great later on in the clay court season. So I just focus ‑‑ for me, my whole thing is just one tournament at a time."
The doubles final was won by Kristina Mladenovic
and Lucie Safarova
over Andrea Hlavackova
and Liezel Huber