By Ros Satar
(June 1, 2013) PARIS -With so many competitive matches on the schedule on Saturday, the Roland-Garros site had hyped up the Jelena Jankovic – Sam Stosur contest as their one to watch – and they were not wrong.
Three years ago, many thought Jankovic’s best chance at a major title run was right here, but the semi-final against Sam Stosur was a very one-sided affair.
Stosur effectively closed down all elements of Jankovic’s counter-punching style that day, and went through to the final for the loss of just three games.
For a small time, it looked as though history might repeat itself, as the first set went Stosur’s way quite rapidly.
The pair traded breaks in the second before Jankovic was able to make that decisive break at 4-3, serving it out convincingly.
Things remained close with breaks between them until Jankovic broke again to lead 5-4.
Three match points came and went for Jankovic, who then had to save a break point before finally converting on her fourth match point, finishing with an ace.
Jankovic will face USA’s Jamie Hampton, who beat Petra Kvitova earlier today in another tight 3-set match.
Stosur was very honest about the way things had gone today.
She said: “I think that I was pretty much in control of the match and then at 3-all I felt that I was setting the point up and then missed those shots to win the point.”
Although she had fought back from 0-3 down, it proved to be too big a hole to come back from.
She concluded: “I’m very disappointed and it’s kind of hard to take a little bit.
“I thought I played well enough for the majority of the match to be through. Obviously I didn’t do enough, and didn’t do it at the right time, or whatever and yeah – I find myself out of the tournament.”
Jankovic also shared some insight into how the first set had got away from her, in much the same way as the 2010 semi-final.
She said: “I had difficulty returning her serve and obviously when I don’t return well she starts controlling the point.
“She takes real advantage of that and she starts pushing me around then court and it’s difficult.
“She starts spinning that forehand and its very heavy and then I’m in trouble, so my goal was to return the serve as deep as I can and get back in the court.”
Mentally, Jankovic seems to have found herself, and gave a fairly brutal assessment of her form in the past year, given that her next opponent (Jamie Hampton) beat her in Indian Wells in 2012.
“I was losing to pretty much everyone at the time, at that stage and I was playing really badly and my level of tennis was not there.”
Hampton came through a tough 3-set match of her own, beating Petra Kvitova.
Jankovic said: “Obviously she’s playing very well, she’s beaten some top players.
“We’re now in the fourth round so you have to be playing very well to get there.”
“She has a tough game, she’s a tough opponent to play against, she has a big forehand.”
When Jankovic is up, she is very up, and given that she plays her next round of women’s doubles tomorrow, and has yet to kick off her mixed doubles campaign (partnering Leander Paes) – how will she find the time?
She joked: “I am a woman in demand, huh?
“It’s OK, I’ll play them all, and then I’ll die at the end.”
But all joking aside – Jankovic has started playing a lot more doubles this year, in order to add elements to her game, that have often been noted as lacking.
She concluded: “When I play doubles it helps me, improves my return, my transitions game, my volleys.
“Even in the singles I think I did very well when I was volleying today, when I was coming forward so I’m learning and improving that part which is great”