2014/04/18

Stosur Earns First Win Over Azarenka and Fourth Career Title

Stosur sliding in the pool

By Curt Janka

(August 4, 2013) CARLSBAD, California – Samantha Stosur wasn’t even scheduled to play this week, but made the best of her wild card entry, defeating the top seed, Victoria Azarenka in the final 6-2, 6-3. The match was perhaps less competitive than the score indicates as Azarenka never seemed to find the right length to her shots.

Without finding a feel for her shots, Azarenka never adjusted her game plan. In fact, her game plan may have got in the way of her settling into a rhythm. From the very beginning, it was clear Azarenka wanted to avoid the Stosur forehand at all costs. She continued to over hit at the Stosur’s backhand even when an easier shot was available in the other direction. Azarenka seemed to recognize this after the match saying, “I just have to be a little bit more aware of what I‘m doing on the court, what I can do on that particular day.  I kept doing the same kind of thing, so that wasn’t very smart for me to do.”

Azarenka did not put all the blame on her game, however, adding,“ have to give her credit. She played a great match today for sure. There is no doubt about that.”

The statistics for Stosur certainly concur. While Azarenka was one of 12 on break points, Stosur was an impressive four of five. Azarenka is known as a great returner, but it was Stosur that got a remarkable 80% of returns in play. Returning so well kept Azarenka’s serve in jeopardy throughout the match. Of the eight times Stosur came to net, she won seven of those points. She also hit 13 more winners than her opponent.

IMG_7884

One other statistic stood out even before the match started, their head-to-head record. Azarenka was previously 8-0 against Stosur. It’s not easy to overcome that kind of history, but Stosur pointed out it’s not a first for her. “I guess I went through something similar when I played Maria Sharapova a bunch of times,” said Stosur.  “I think it took ten times for me to be able to beat her.  I knew it was possible one day against Vika, but the last two matches that we played have been very, very close.  I felt like I was almost in winning positions with those two as well. So I think going into today there was no reason to believe that I wasn’t going to be able to turn that result around and win today.”

That mentality came through in Stosur’s positive body language from the start of the match to the end when she closed out the win on her first opportunity. This is her fourth career title and a much needed confidence builder heading into the final slam of the season.

“Yeah, it’s great,” Stosur said with a relieved smile. “Obviously this is the lead-up to the US Open and that’s where everyone wants to peak.  I think this is a huge boost for me.  I haven’t had great results all year, so to be able to bounce back especially from last week’s first-round loss is really exciting.”

In addition to lifting the trophy, and taking the now traditional victor’s trip down the pool slide at the La Costa resort, Stosur is now also tied for the lead in the US Open Series points race.  If her confidence, and points race standings hold, she’ll be eligible for bonus prize money and likely a deep run in New York.

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Azarenka Breezes Past Radwanska, Hingis And Hantuchova Lose

V Azarenka

By Curt Janka

(August 2, 2013) CARLSBAD, California – Urzula Radwanska provided little resistance to top seed Victoria Azarenka. While all three of the previous quarterfinals of the day went to three sets, Azarenka easily dismissed Radwanska 6-1, 6-2. The few games Radwanska managed to win seemed to only come when Azarenka’s concentration dipped.

Having won the first set comfortably, Azarenka opened the second set with two wild double faults and two egregious errors to gift a break to her opponent. The sudden burst of applause from the crowd might have been enough to refocus Azarenka’s attention. She quickly won the next 5 games. Azarenka again seemed to mentally drift as she donated another loose service break before closing the match out on Radwanska’s serve at love.

Azarenka will face Ana Ivanovic in the semifinals. The other semi pits wild card Virginie Razzano against Samantha Stosur.

Martina Hingis

Martina Hingis

Martina Hingis, having un-retired this week to play doubles, also looked like she’d cruise to a comfortable win with her partner Daniela Hantuchova. Leading by a set and a break, the veteran pair looked relaxed and giggled on changeovers. That’s when their opponents, Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears dug in their heels. The determined American duo used strong serves and solid volleys to ultimately take the match 4-6, 7-5, 10-3.

Hingis impressed with some bigger-than-expected groundstrokes, but her serve was often a target for abuse. Early in the second set, it seemed the off pace of Hingis’ serve had her opponents off rhythm. “It’s so slow,” yelled Kops-Jones at one point, frustrated by hitting a number of returns out. The younger team was able to settle back into their return game, however, and extend the match.

In the deciding tiebreaker, the Americans were the more intense team and quickly notched an insurmountable lead. Hingis saved one match point on her serve before losing the next, and final, point on another blazing return.

At the conclusion of the doubles match, which had been moved to the smaller Stadium 2, Hingis and Hantuchova gathered their things and started to walk out the rear exit. They didn’t get far. Quite a crowd of vocal fans had gathered at the front exit beckoning the pair to come that way.  The veterans obliged the happy fans by crossing back to the swarm, signing autographs and posing for pictures. It was a classy gesture that will surely leave the lucky fans with a great memory of the evening.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA OPEN
Carlsbad, CA, USA
July 29-August 4, 2013
$795,707/Premier
Hard/Outdoors

Results – Friday, August 2, 2013
Singles – Quarterfinals
(1) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. Urszula Radwanska (POL) 61 62
(5/WC) Samantha Stosur (AUS) d. (2) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 75 26 63
(WC) Virginie Razzano (FRA) d. (3) Petra Kvitova (CZE) 67(6) 75 76(8) (saved 2mp)
(7) Ana Ivanovic (SRB) d. (4) Roberta Vinci (ITA) 61 67(1) 62

Doubles – Quarterfinals
Black/Erakovic (ZIM/NZL) d. (2) Huber/Llagostera Vives (USA/ESP) 64 36 1210 (Match TB)
(3) Kops-Jones/Spears (USA/USA) d. (WC) Hantuchova/Hingis (SVK/SUI) 46 75 103 (Match TB)

Order Of Play – Saturday, August 3, 2013
Stadium (from 14.00hrs)
1. Victoria Azarenka vs. Ana Ivanovic
2. Kops-Jones/Spears vs. Black/Erakovic
3. Virginie Razzano vs. Samantha Stosur (NB 19.00hrs)
4. Chan/Husarova vs. Jankovic/Srebotnik

 

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Sock Misses Beating Karlovic by Inches

 

Jack Sock

Jack Sock

By Curt Janka

(March 8, 2013) INDIAN WELLS, California – Up a set and 8-7 in the second-set tiebreaker, Jack Sock hit a backhand passing shot that very nearly won the match. “I missed a pretty routine backhand up the line by a couple of inches,” he said after the 6-3, 6-7, 2-6 loss to Ivo Karlovic. Watching Sock play, it’s easy to conclude he’s also “this” close to being a top player. He has big weapons, variety and athleticism. It just seems to come down to a few big points.  This match was his to win.

In fairness, Karlovic is the higher ranked player and a savvy veteran. It showed most of all in the tiebreaker where Karlovic maintained his cool composure. And he should, the guy has made a career out of winning tiebreakers in close matches.

A let down after the disappointment of dropping the tiebreaker was inevitable, but Sock nearly fought it off. In the opening game of the third set, Sock saved three break points before conceding the game on the fourth.  If that wasn’t deflating enough, Karlovic elevated his service games.

“He started serving better,” Sock credited his opponent. “He started putting a lot more returns in play, making me play more on serve and I missed a couple balls that you can’t against a guy who serves like that.”

The momentum had shifted and before Sock could right his feet, he was down 0-4 in the deciding set. To his credit, he hung on enough to win his last two service games, but could not get to a break point. Karlovic closed out the match in stoic, unflappable form.

So what went wrong for Sock? A couple inches to the right, and he would have advanced to the next round. He certainly had no problems passing Karlovic prior to earning the match point. Sock executed a solid game plan from the very start of the match, blocking back serves low to his opponent’s feet and working over the Karlovic backhand in every extended rally.

Tennis is a cruel sport. You won’t beat a good player by simply executing the plan most of the time. You also have to do it on the big points. Yes, Sock had a chance to win the tiebreaker in the second set, but he had chances to break Karlovic earlier in the set, too. Notably, when Karlovic was serving at 4-4, 30-30 in the second set, Sock shanked a very hittable second serve. Those are the big points that make a difference in these tight sets. He was blocking and chipping back serves in a good rhythm and then for a split second on this big point, that focus disappeared.

As hard of a loss as this was for Sock, there a list of positives he can take from it and carry forward into the season. For starters, he is healthy and playing again. He wasn’t at this time last year. So he has few points to defend and plenty to gain.  For the majority of this match, Sock outplayed his opponent from the ground. His movement looked good, his tactics were sound.

“I was hitting the ball pretty well,” Sock assessed his play. “I was moving well, hitting the ball well.”

Sock’s game continues to develop and he appears grounded enough to know he needs to work on maintaining focus for a complete match. He has the burden of great potential, but loves being out there competing. That passion will surely help him capitalize on his talent. In the meantime, he’s close. Really, really close to cracking the code and rising up the ranks.

Curt Janka is covering the BNP Paribas Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his tournament updates @TennisNewsTPN. Follow his personal twitter @CurtJanka.

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Berankis Into First ATP Final

By Curt Janka

Los Angeles – Although Lithuanian qualifier Ricardas Berankis was playing in his first ATP semifinal, he maintained his composure and elevated level of play to beat Marinko Matosevic 7-5, 6-1. With the win, Berankis reaches his first ATP final and is the first player from his country to do so.

 

Berankis was all smiles after his match. “It’s really amazing,” he said. “I really didn’t think of it before coming here. I mean, every athlete has to think of their best in the tournament, but the finalist? When you come to play qualies it’s difficult to think of the final.”

 

The match started out in a dead lock. The players had split their previous two meetings and through 10 games and neither could make a dent in the other’s serve. Serving at 5-5, Matosevic wavered and Berankis seized the opportunity. With the break in hand, Berankis quickly held to close out the first set.

 

Much like his match against Nicolas Mahut, Berankis started out the second set by grabbing the early break. From that point he never looked back. Matosevic had one look at a break when he got the first two points of the game with Berankis serving at 2-1. The frustration from not capitalizing on that opportunity seemed to break Matosevic as his opponent ran away with the rest of the match.

 

The coach who Berankis has been working with for 13 years, and who he calls a “second father,” flew into town today for the match. The coach left Lithuania yesterday for Washington, where they planned to meet after the tourney. Because things were going so well, they decided to get him on a flight at 6am this morning and he got to the tournament just 30 minutes before today’s match.

 

Berankis will play either Sam Querrey or Rajeev Ram in the final of The Farmers Classic.

 

Asked about his chances in the final, Berankis said “My game is improving every day. I’m feeling great on the court at the moment and looking forward to tomorrow.” He added that he would be looking to attack any second serves he gets.

 

While 2011 saw 10 first-time winners on the ATP tour, this year players attempting to win their first title have gone 0-10 in finals. Berankis hopes to add the title to his list of first this week.

 

Along with the other accomplishments Berankis is stacking up, today’s win puts him in a tie for 2nd on the Emirates US Open Series Bonus Challenge standings with Gilles Muller. The winner of the final will be tied for first with Andy Roddick.

 

 

 

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Berankis Stuns Mahut at Farmers Classic

By Curt Janka

Los Angeles – Qualifier Ricardas Berankis made upsetting the number four seed look routine in a straight sets win over Nicolas Mahut in the first quarterfinal of The Farmers Classic. Ranked No. 141, Berankis needed just one break in each set to dismiss his opponent, 6-4, 6-4.

 

Despite holding the top junior ranking spot in 2007, Berankis has been slow to break through at ATP events. The win earns him his first semifinal on the tour. Bernakis is just 22-years-old and the youngest player left in the draw. Sidelined by an injury for the first half of the season, he’s only been playing since June and is happy with his progress saying, “So far, so good.”

 

Mahut struggled to return the Lithuanian’s serve throughout the match. Berankis further frustrated Mahut by saving all three break chances he faced. On the other hand, Berankis seemed to get more returns in, keeping pressure on Mahut’s serve with nine break chances in the first set alone.

 

The turning point in the match came in the ninth game of the first set. Both players had been holding fairly easily to that point and suddenly Mahut found himself fending off 6 break points before conceding the break after nine deuce points.

“I got lucky on a couple points,” said Berankis. “I’m happy I was able to control my emotions and play well.”

 

Berankis held quickly after that to close out the first set and continued the run by breaking Mahut in the opening game of the second set. From then on, both players protected their serve without much tension until the end of the match. Facing three match points, Mahut was able to save two before Berankis converted on his third chance.

 

This may be the furthest Berankis has advanced in an ATP event, but his run may not end yet. He will either face another unseeded player in Michael Russell or sixth-seeded Marinko Matosevic in the semifinal, which can only be viewed as a golden opportunity to debut in a final. Asked about the opportunity he said, “The first time is always unbelievable and something new. I hope that tomorrow I can continue doing the way I am now.”

 

While Berankis did not qualify for the Olympics this year, he hopes to represent Lithuania at the next games in Brazil.

Curt Janka is covering the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  His personal twitter is @CurtJanka.

 

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Jankovic Comeback Suffers Setback

“Latisha” Yung-Jan Chan

By Curt Janka

CARLSBAD, California – After her previous match, Jelena Jankovic said she hoped to start her comeback. With two match points in her favor during her quarterfinal at The Mercury Insurance Open, it looked like she was on her way to a winning streak at the least. That’s when qualifier Yung-Jan Chan turned everything around and notched a come-from-behind upset, 6-7, 7-6, 7-5. Jankovic, ranked No. 19, and Chan, ranked No. 161, battled back-and-forth for over three hours in a match that may have lacked in consistent quality but compensated with suspense and drama.

Jelena Jankovic

During the three hours and 13 minutes played under the heat of the midday Southern California sun, there were 15 breaks of serve, two calls for coaches and one medical timeout and a broken string on the final point. At the end of each set, the question loomed. Could the server hold? In the final game of the final set, Chan answered the question with a “Yes” and secured her place in the semifinal.

While Jankovic hit some brilliant backhand winners, her forehand was a liability, especially matched up against Chan’s forehand, which was used to put Jankovic on the run.

Having won the first set and up 3-1 in the second, Jankovic looked to be firmly in control of the match. Chan seemed fatigued at that point and called for the trainer. Jankovic admits her concentration wandered at that point. “After that I had three bad games. I lost my focus, and that kind of brought her back into the match.”

“I fought back,” she continued, “I was in there and had match points in that tiebreaker. When I lost the second set, it was so tough mentally, and of course physically, because we were playing in the heat. The forehand was letting me down. I shanked so many balls when I shouldn’t have.”

Asked if it was unlucky that she broke a string on the final point she said “In sports you need luck, you need skill… you need a lot of things. I couldn’t hit the ball because my racquet was broken. I’m not saying I would have won the match if that didn’t happen, but at least I didn’t want to lose in that way.”

She also gave credit to her opponent for never going away and staying tough. “She was fighting. She was hanging in there. So at the end she deserved to win.”

The win ranks high in Chan’s memory of her career. “I think it could be one of the best matches in my career. It feels very special for me because she was a former number one. Also, I had surgery at the end of last year, and this is my best result since the surgery.”

Last December, Chan had an emergency surgery to remove a 7cm cyst from her stomach. She was off the tour for 3 months and recovery has been slow. Illness and injury have taken dents out of her time on tour over the last few years.

Despite doubles success in the past, she would like to focus more now on her singles career. “Now this time I feel like I will be 23 soon and I don’t have time to waste. So I guess I need to focus on one thing first a little bit more and we’ll see how it goes. This tournament really shows me that I still can play.”

Asked how she got her “American” name, Latisha, she explained, “All Taiwanese who speak English will try to get an English name. I was searching by internet and once asked a tennis player— he’s in Taiwan and lives in United States for a long time, so I ask him for any good names that would fit my personality.”

“He gave me three. Then he told me what it means, and finally I choose Latisha. He says it means a black girl who really loves sports. I said, Yeah, I’m going to take that.” She laughed and recalled how Serena asked her about last week in Stanford during the doubles final, “She said, is that your name Latisha? I was like, Yeah. She was like, do you know that it’s a black name? I said, Yeah, and she said, Oh that’s cool. It was really fun.”

In the semifinals, Latisha will play the winner between Marion Bartoli and Christina McHale.

Earlier in the day, Dominka Cibulkova played a streaky match but did just enough to defeat Urszula Radwanska 6-4, 6-4 in the first quarterfinal. Cibulkova will play Nadia Petrova in the other semifinal.

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Jankovic Survives Test From Czink

By Curt Janka

CARLSBAD, California – Jelena Jankovic battled through a slow start and a determined Melinda Czink to win 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 at the Mercury Insurance Open. Jankovic came into the match with a 2-0 record against Czink, but has had patchy results this year. This was the Serbian’s first hard court win of the summer, but it didn’t come easily.

Czink looked and played totally relaxed, hitting with great depth throughout the match. Her forehand matched up especially well against the forehand of Jankovic, who said she felt “a little bit slow.”

Asked if there was anything causing her limited movement Jankovic waved off any concerns. She explained, “I was reacting a little bit slow and I wasn’t setting up on the balls as well as I would’ve liked to, but that’s tennis. You’re not always going to feel so light and fast, but those are the days when you have to work a little bit harder and get through.”

One thing that did work well for Jankovic was her serve. Through the second and third sets, she was able to produce clutch serves when facing break points. As she started landing more forehands in, she was eventually able to disrupt Czink’s rhythm. On the opportunities she was able to step into her backhand, she was able to regain control of points and ultimately the match.

This is Jankovic’s sixth appearance in Carlsbad and hard court is admittedly her favorite surface. “I love playing on the hard courts. I love playing in this kind of conditions. I’m excited to be here especially. This is a place where I’m going to be spending time and I would like to do well. I would like to somehow start my comeback and just play good tennis and enjoy it out there. There were times I was played well and times I didn’t play well, but I enjoyed the battle. I was out there having fun and I think that’s important.”

Jankovic will be spending considerably more time in the area, as the home she is building nearby in Rancho Santa Fe is complete. “Just the furniture is not there,” she smiled, “I was there yesterday. When I was entering there, I was saying ‘I’m the owner” and they were looking like ‘You’re not the owner you’re only like 27 years old.” She laughed and said the security guard didn’t recognize her because she was in a cap and sunglasses. “But it was nice to see the improvement. It looks great so far.”

There’s even a court there for her to play on but nothing to sleep on yet. “But you know,” she said, laughing again, “It’s not too bad here at La Costa. I’m having a good time here playing golf and the weather.” She hopes to move in during the off-season in December.

As for staging her comeback, this draw poses a great opportunity. She next faces qualifier Yung-Jan Chan in the quarterfinals. While she’s on the same side of the bracket as top-seed Marion Bartoli and fifth-seed Christina McHale, they both also struggled through 3-set matches today. A good result here for Jankovic could give her the confidence that has been missing from her game.

Curt Janka is covering the Mercury Insurance Open for Tennis Panorama News as media. Follow his updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @CurtJanka.

 

MERCURY INSURANCE OPEN
Carlsbad, CA, USA
July 16-22, 2012
$740,000/Premier
Hard/Outdoors

Results – Thursday, July 19, 2012
Singles – Second Round
(2) Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) d. Marina Erakovic (NZL) 62 64
(3) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. Melinda Czink (HUN) 26 64 64

(5) Christina McHale (USA) d. Misaki Doi (JPN) 46 64 64
Urszula Radwanska (POL) d. (LL) Melanie Oudin (USA) 62 61

Doubles – Quarterfinals
(1) Huber/Raymond (USA/USA) d. Chan/Chan (TPE/TPE) 62 76(3)
Chang/Lertcheewakarn (TPE/THA) d. Husarova/Watson (SVK/GBR) 64 26 108 (Match TB)

Doubles – First Round
(2) King/Petrova (USA/RUS) d. Glatch/Oudin (USA/USA) 75 62

Order Of Play – Friday, July 20, 2012
Stadium (from 11.00hrs)
1. Urszula Radwanska vs. Dominika Cibulkova
2. Jelena Jankovic vs. Chan Yung-Jan (NB 13.00hrs)
3. Varvara Lepchenko vs. Nadia Petrova (NB 15.00hrs)
4. Cibulkova/Hantuchova vs. King/Petrova (after suitable rest)

5. Marion Bartoli vs. Christina McHale (NB 20.00hrs)
6. Kops-Jones/Spears vs. Lee-Waters/Moulton-Levy

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Sharapova Drubs Dulko

By Curt Janka

INDIAN WELLS, California – Maria Sharapova efficiently dismissed Gisela Dulko from the BNP Paribas Open 6-2, 6-0. While it looked like she was in a hurry to get off the court, it was a little bit of the opposite. “I haven’t played a tournament in a few weeks,” she said. “I was pretty eager to get out there tonight.”

 

On court after her match, Maria Sharapova said she wants to “win more matches and stay healthy” so she can compete for slams. She certainly appeared in good form during Saturday’s demolition of Gisela Dulko, 6-2, 6-0.

 

Competing for slams hasn’t really been a problem. She’s been in two of the last three major finals. It’s winning them that’s proving to be elusive. Sharapova has perhaps been unfortunate in running into the new “it girl” in the finals.

 

Or maybe she needs to toughen up a little on her personal goals. Yes, staying fit and playing more matches is critical, but what can she do to go from runner up to running away with a title? It may come down to confidence and mental preparation. Is her team giving her the kind of scouting report she needs against the new players on winning streaks? Is she going into the finals with a customized game plan? It’s not enough anymore to just take care of your side of the net. If Sharapova wants to win another major, she needs to be ready for whoever is on the other side of the net.

 

Sharapova has a great draw to make a deep run here in Indian Wells. A win here, or in Miami, could be just the confidence boost she needs to win another slam.

Curt Janka is covering the BNP Paribas Open for Tennis Panorama News as media. Follow his updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. Follow his personal twitter @CurtJanka.

 

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Muller Surprises Tomic

Gilles Muller

By Curt Janka

INDIAN WELLS, California (March 9, 2012) – Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller did something unexpected when he came from behind to beat Australia’s Bernard Tomic 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-0 in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open. The surprise wasn’t so much that Muller came back, but more that he stuck around long enough without getting frustrated.

For nearly two sets, it looked liked the Australian had the narrow edge, methodically absorbing pace and constructing devious points. He was able to get the only break he needed to secure the first set and the steady pattern held up at the beginning of the second. Both players placed their serves effectively, but Tomic was definitely getting the better of the longer points.

And then something happened. Muller patiently endured the Tomic game plan until the ninth game of the second set. At 4-4, 30-30 on Muller’s serve, it looked like Tomic would get the critical break he needed. Tomic constructed a crafty point and just when it looked like he had the put away, Muller pulled out some remarkable defense to win and go up 40-30. The way Muller turned the point around seemed to fuel him.

By the second-set tiebreaker, the momentum had decidedly shifted in Muller’s favor as he got the early mini break and closed it out at 7-4.

Muller had somehow stolen Tomic’s swagger. Now it was Muller winning the long points, picking his moments to approach perfectly and sticking volleys on both sides. Tomic checked out while Muller raced to the finish line.

The talent of Tomic is wildly apparent and his funky rhythm makes for interesting points, but the mental collapse is a red flag to the team from down under. The BNP Paribas Open may not be a major, but it’s extremely close. The lack of effort by Tomic in the third set was disappointing to say the least. Let’s see if Tomic can turn it around before Miami.

Curt Janka is covering the BNP Paribas Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. Follow his personal twitter @CurtJanka.

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Hampton Upsets Jankovic at the BNP Paribas Open

By Curt Janka

INDIAN WELLS, California (March 9, 2012) – American wildcard Jamie Hampton treated Center Court to a surprise upset over Jelena Jankovic, winning 6-4, 6-3 in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open. The 99th ranked Hampton said this was the biggest win of her career and the best she has played in a high-pressure match. She thinks she can still play better, though, and hopes to do so to reach her new goal of making it inside the top 70 of the WTA rankings.

“It was a bad day of tennis for me,” said Jankovic. “My legs felt so heavy on the court. Maybe I’m still recovering from jet lag.” Jankovic did however give credit to her young opponent saying “she took her opportunities and she executed her shots. Hampton played solid.”

Asked how she staged the upset, Hampton said “I was pretty nervous before the match, actually,” and she joked that she though she might vomit. “I think the fact that I got a match under my belt here helped me a lot. Earlier this year in Australia I didn’t have that opportunity against Maria and she wiped the court with me.”

This is the first time Hampton has won back-to-back matches at a WTA event. She thumped Polona Hercog in the first round, 6-0, 6-1. Asked if she felt her game has improved she credited the USTA saying, “last year at the end of the year I went to Boca Raton and spent a couple weeks with the USTA. They helped me and my coach put together a game plan and some objectives that I need to keep in mind no matter who I’m playing.”

With the improvement in her game and her results so far here, Hampton says she is altering her goal from breaking into the 100 to cracking the top 70.

On the topic of goals, Jankovic would like to one day win the Fed Cup title and hopes Ana Ivanovic will join the team.  “It would be great if she could play. We have a really huge chance if she plays. It would be nice to add that trophy to my collection. It’s a different feeling to be playing for your country.”

In the meantime, Jankovic just hopes to get her tennis to the level she expects of herself.  “Today, I was a shadow of myself.”

Curt Janka is covering the BNP Paribas Open this week for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. Follow his personal twitter @CurtJanka.

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