2014/07/23

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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Scheepers and Oudin Through to Second Round in Night of Twists and Turns

Melanie Oudin

By Curt Janka

CARLSBAD, California – The Tuesday night session of the Mercury Insurance Open produced a number of surprises for the fans and players. The first coming before a ball was struck. Earlier in the day, Sorana Cirstea was forced to withdraw from her scheduled match with Sloane Stephens with a right abductor strain, granting lucky loser Melanie Oudin the chance to play in the main draw. That meant fans would get to see three Americans play under the lights.

Coco Vandeweghe and Chanelle Scheepers took the court first. Scheepers entered the match with one previous win over her opponent, but Vandeweghe came out swinging, holding at love. Early in the rallies it was clear that Vandeweghe would be hitting the bigger balls, but Scheepers seemed comfortable redirecting the power. Scheepers won the first set easily, 6-2, while a frustrated Vandeweghe continued to go for winners unsuccessfully.

The second set was much more competitive as the players stayed on serve until 5-5. They then traded breaks and headed into a tie-breaker. Vandeweghe’s all-or-nothing approach got the best of her in the end as Scheepers won the breaker 7-4.

Vandeweghe seems to consistently go for too much when under pressure. She can hit with great topspin and Scheepers struggled with the few off pace balls Vandeweghe hit. She has the strokes, the mentality seems to be lagging behind her talent.

The crowd was definitely buzzing about the all-American match up between Stephens and Oudin. While carrying a 2-0 record against Oudin into the match, Stephens was coming off a first round exit last week at Stanford.

Stephens started the match on fire, winning the first 4 games before letting her opponent on the board. Both players were hitting very aggressively, but Stephens’ speed seemed to give her an extra edge as she slapped multiple on-the-run winners. She closed the set out at 6-1 without blinking. Stephens even got the early break in the second set, but just when she was looking unstoppable, double faults crept into her service game and she was broken. Stephens definitely had her chances in the second set going up 4-2 and even held two match points in the tie-breaker. But Oudin found her rhythm and began mixing up the pace of her shots. Once Oudin came back to with the second set breaker 8-6, all the fight seemed to leave Stephens. Oudin quickly won the third set 6-0 to surprise the crowd with a come-from-behind victory.

Asked how she turned the match around, Oudin said “My plan going into the match was trying to stay with her the whole time. The first set didn’t work that well. I felt like I was controlling a lot of the points—I was just missing.” She said her “forehand started working” after being down 4-2 in the second set and then everything seemed to fall into place. In the end she said “I played one of the best sets I’ve played in a while.”

It seems winning those eight matches in Birmingham to claim her maiden title helped her find her mojo again. She said, “The biggest thing is confidence. When I walk on the court I really do think I can win these matches now. I’m finally finding my game again. I think I can be even better than when I was 30 in the world.”

For now she has her sights set on peaking at the U.S. Open where she hopes to be awarded a wild card entry. A strong run here this week will certainly help her cause.

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.

 

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Mercury Insurance Open Set for July 14-22 in Carlsbad

The  WTA Tour’s Mercury Insurance Open will be played July 14-22 at the remodeled La Costa Resort and Spa north of San Diego in Carlsbad, California.

“The 2012 Mercury Insurance Open will feature some of the best women’s
tennis players in the world in a 28-player singles draw and a 16-team
doubles draw at one of the most beautiful resorts anywhere,” said
Steve Simon the Tournament Director.

“I think it’s one of the best tournaments,” said World No. 5 and
defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska. “I won last year and two years
ago I was in the final, so I really play well there. It’s a great
tournament with great fans as well. The resort is nice, the city is
beautiful and I really enjoy playing tennis there.”

“The Mercury Insurance Open has become such an important part of the
community and we are delighted to be able to bring championship tennis
to the tens of thousands of fans who attend each year,” said Erik
Thompson, Mercury’s director of advertising. “We have always taken an
active role in the community and the tournament is the perfect
opportunity to get involved with tennis fans.”

“The Mercury Insurance Open will once again deliver a great fan
experience – the best players, an incredible venue and fun memories
the fans will not forget,” said Simon. “The tournament has a
long-standing tradition of excellent women’s tennis and that will
continue in 2012.”

For more information about the tournament visit www.mercuryinsuranceopen.com

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Radwanska Tops Zvonareva For Carlsbad Title

Agnieszka Radwanska

By Curt Janka

CARLSBAD, California – Agnieszka Radwanska played a pristine match in the final of the Mercury Insurance Open to beat Vera Zvonareva 6-3, 6-4. Showing more variety and guile than power, Radwanska was still able to move her opponent around the court. This is the first title Radwanska has won in over three years. The last final she played was right here in San Diego last year.

Zvonareva didn’t start the match as sharp as she had in her previous rounds, contributing errors to Radwanska’s cause. “She played the way she usually plays,  but didn’t make any unforced errors,” Zvonareva said after the match. “When Agnieszka’s playing well, if you make mistakes, it’s tough to win.”

Zvonareva didn’t hit the ball with as much sting as she did in her semifinal and even her good shots were tracked down by Radwanska.

Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland pumps her fist after winning a point against Andrea Petkovic of Germany at a WTA tennis event in Carlsbad, California August 6, 2011. REUTERS/Denis Poroy (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT TENNIS)

 

“I played very well today,” said Radwanska. “I really wanted to win this tournament so I was really focused from the beginning.” The shoulder injury she has been nursing since the third round hardly seemed to be a factor in the match.

Not only was this Radwanska’s first win over Zvonareva, it also ended a nine-match winning streak by the Russian. This was Radwanska’s fifth career WTA title.

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Zvonareva Edges Ivanovic, Reaches Final

Vera Zvonareva

By Curt Janka

CARLSBAD, California – In the best match of the week, Vera Zvonareva came back to beat Ana Ivanovic in the second semifinal of The Mercury Insurance Open, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4. In each set, Zvonareva went ahead early only to face pressure when serving for the set. Ivanovic banged forehands and Zvonareva crushed backhands throughout the high-quality encounter. The surprise of the match may have been how well Ivanovic played defense.

Asked what she did better to win the second and third sets, Zvonareva answered, “I think I started playing a little bit more aggressive overall. We’ve been working on a few things with my coach. I tried to implement them into the match today. Sometimes I was going for some crazy shots and making some wrong decisions. But I knew I had to keep trying them. They didn’t work in the first set, but then they started slowly working. It helped me to win the match, I think.”

Ana Ivanovic

In the second and third sets, Zvonareva handled the tough pressure from Ivanovic better when it was time to close it out. Zvonareva gave credit to Ivanovic for playing so well and fighting to the end saying “If she keeps working hard and playing like this, I’m sure we will see her back in the top 10.”

Zvonareva will face Agnieszka Radwanska in the final. The two have played each other only twice, with Zvonareva winning both matches.

Curt Janka is covering the Mercury Insurance Open in Carlsbad this week. for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter at @GVTennisNews. Follow his personal twitter @CurtJanka.

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Injured Radwanska Beats Ailing Petkovic at Carlsbad

Agnieszka Radwanska

By Curt Janka

CARLSBAD, California – If Rock beats Paper, then Wounded beat Woozy in the first semifinal of the Mercury Insurance Open. Agnieszka Radwanska endured an injured shoulder to beat Andrea Petkovic, who was battling gastrointestinal issues in a three-set thriller 4-6, 6-0, 6-4.

The match was filled with variety, depth, and drama. Petkovic hit aggressively into the corners during the first set while Radwanska played terrific defense. Petkovic found some sharp angles and big returns to take the first set with a break.

When they players started the second set, Petkovic looked less relaxed than someone in the lead should. She contested calls, burning through her challenges before the conclusion of the third game.  At 0-3, she had the trainer visit her briefly. “I told the umpire that I wanted to go to the bathroom because I needed to throw up.,” Petkovic explained. “She told me it’s going to be on my time because it’s right before Aga is serving.” She believes something she ate at lunch was the cause of her stomach trouble.

Andrea Petkovic

Serving at 0-4 and 0-40, Petkovic suddenly sprinted off the court. “I was like, okay, what is more embarrassing, running off the court like a maniac or throwing up on the court and being on SportsCenter for the next 25 years?” Afterwards she felt better but let her intensity drop for a while.

Down 4-0 in the third set, Petkovic found her intensity again. She won three games in a row to put some very real pressure back on Radwanska who said “she was starting to play so much better, like no mistakes, going for it. Every game was very close. But you know it was a good game on my side with it was 4-3. I had a couple good shots. It was pretty close in the end.”

Radwanska will play in the final for the second year in a row. She awaits the winner of the match between Vera Zvonareva and Ana Ivanovic. Asked about the other semifinal, Radwanska said “for sure I’m going to watch today how they’re playing. It’s going to be a very interesting match. Really hard to say who is going to win.”

 

Curt Janka is covering the Mercury Insurance Open in Carlsbad this week. for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter at @GVTennisNews. Follow his personal twitter @CurtJanka.

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Ivanovic Downs Peng, Reaches Semis at Mercury Insurance Open

 

Ana Ivanovic

By Curt Janka

CARLSBAD, California – Playing some of her sharpest tennis of the year, Ana Ivanovic swept past Shuai Peng in straight sets 6-4, 6-2 to reach just her second semifinal of 2011. But it wasn’t all smiles and “Adjes” from Ivanovic who trailed 1-4 in the first set, before seizing control of the match.

Ivanovic said in the beginning “I was a little bit pushing, a little bit trying not to make a mistake.” Things changed after she called her coach to the court. “Nigel said, ‘Stay calm, keep hitting the ball, work the ball.’ I started doing that a little better and it made a difference.”

Peng Shuai

Ivanovic got back into the match playing aggressive, attacking ground strokes. After Peng squandered the lead and lost the first set, she was visited by the trainer to receive treatment on her lower back. Despite the injury, Peng never lost any zip on her powerful ground strokes. In fact she began shortening the points when possible, hitting aggressive returns for winners. But with her movement not at top form, Peng was unable to keep the ball in play during the longer rallies. And while Peng’s shots began to spray, Ivanovic hit with more and more confidence to close the second set out quickly.

Ana Ivanovic

Ivanovic will play the top seed, Vera Zvonareva in the second semifinal tomorrow. When asked if she was looking forward to the matchup she replied, “Yeah, I’m very excited about that challenge because she’s a top player. It’s going to be a good test for me to see where my game is at.”

Curt Janka is covering the Mercury Insurance Open in Carlsbad this week. for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter at @GVTennisNews. Follow his personal twitter @CurtJanka.

 

MERCURY INSURANCE OPEN
Carlsbad, CA, USA
August 1-7, 2011
$721,000/Premier
Hard/Outdoors

Results – Friday, August 5, 2011
Singles – Quarterfinals

(1) Vera Zvonareva (RUS) d. (12) Sabine Lisicki (GER) 63 36 64
(2) Andrea Petkovic (GER) d. (WC) Sloane Stephens (USA) 62 61
(3) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. (8) Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) 06 64 64
(5) Ana Ivanovic (SRB) d. (4) Peng Shuai (CHN) 64 62

Doubles – Quarterfinals
Kops-Jones/Spears (USA/USA) d. (2) Dulko/Pennetta (ARG/ITA) 75 26 1210 (Match TB)

Order of Play – Saturday, August 6, 2011
Stadium Court (from 11.30hrs)

1. Peschke/Srebotnik vs. Errani/Vinci
2. Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Andrea Petkovic (NB 14.00hrs)
3. Vera Zvonareva vs. Ana Ivanovic (NB 19.00hrs)
4. Dushevina/Hradecka vs. Kops-Jones/Spears

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Zvonareva Fends off Liscki

Vera Zvonareva

By Curt Janka

CARLSBAD, California – It took five match points and three racquets, but Vera Zvonareva finally clinched a spot in the semifinals of the Mercury Insurance Open by beating Sabine Lisicki 6-3, 3-6, 6-4. For two hours and 13 minutes, the two exchanged brutal ground strokes. Both players balanced defense and offense well in a battle of will power. Lisicki fought valiantly to the very end, but couldn’t put enough first serves in to keep the upper hand.

Sabine Lisicki

While Lisicki has a bigger serve, Zvonareva returned remarkably well and placed her own serves even better. Once the point was in play, it was a heated chess match. Zvonareva seemed to have the edge on backhand to backhand exchanges while Lisicki was able to notch points in the forehand rallies. Ultimately, it came down to a few mental lapses by Lisicki in the middle of the third set that gave her opponent the lead.

The match marked Zvonareva’s 40th win in 2011 and advanced her to a 7th semifinal this season. It also extends her winning streak to eight, having won at Baku.

Vera Zvonareva

“I don’t know,” she laughed when asked what would cap off her already outstanding season. “I’m enjoying the moment and I just want to do well every single match. I want to give 100% in every single match. As long as I do it, I will be happy with my season.”

Zvonareva will play the winner of the quarterfinal between Ana Ivanovic and Peng Shuai.

Curt Janka is covering the Mercury Insurance Open in Carlsbad this week. for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter at @GVTennisNews. Follow his personal twitter @CurtJanka.

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Radwanska Comes Back From a First Set Bagel to Win in Carlsbad

By Curt Janka

CARLSBAD, California – Starting the match with her right shoulder lightly taped and finishing with it heavily strapped, Agnieszka Radwanska came from behind to beat Daniela Hantuchova 0-6, 6-4, 6-4 at the Mercury Insurance Open. The match started with the doubles partners hitting tentatively at each other, but it was Hantuchova of the Slovak Republic who began to swing freely as she ran away with the first set. The final two sets were more competitive as Poland’s Radwanska played better defense to draw errors out of her opponent and complete the comeback.

Without showing signs of pain, or any real emotion, Radwanska gave little clue that her shoulder was hurting her, other than double faulting twice facing break points in the first set blitz. The first time she was noticeably rubbing her shoulder was after the first set when she called for the trainer.

Radwanska said her shoulder injury is a recent development, since Stanford, but is no stranger to injuries. She struggled with an injury at the end of the 2010 season and said, “I have a little experience with the pain of injuries. I took a lot of painkillers before the match.”

Asked whether losing the first set so badly brought the competitive spirit back out of her, Radwanska replied “I was playing too good in this tournament to lose so quickly and I think this just pushed me to keep fighting.”

Hantuchova seemed to start mixing in high balls at the start of the second set. Whether it was a tactic to test Radwanska’s shoulder or not, the change in rhythm worked against Hantuchova. The longer Radwanska could keep in points, the more errors began creeping into Hantuchova’s game. Radwanska went up a break to lead 3-1 in the second set. The players each held serve one more time before exchanging four consecutive breaks to give Radwanska the second set 6-4.

Despite passive serving from both players, the third set stayed on serve until Hantuchova attacked and broke at 4-3. Radwanska maintained her composure and patience finishing the match without dropping another game.

Asked if she’ll be able to continue in the tournament, or if the injury will keep her from playing, Radwanska said, “You know, it’s two more matches. Now I think all the top players are there. I have nothing to lose. It’s 50/50 I think. It’s hard to say if I can do it or not, but for sure I’ll try. “

Because Radwanska played the first match on Friday morning, she has a little more time to recover before facing German Andrea Petkovic in the semifinals. Petkovic eased past American Sloane Stephens 6-2, 6-1 in the second quarterfinal of the day.

Curt Janka is covering the Mercury Insurance Open in Carlsbad this week. for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter at @GVTennisNews. Follow his personal twitter @CurtJanka.

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