For the second consecutive week, Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova got to the finals of a tournament only to see someone else walk away with the trophy. At the China Open, a tier II event, Serbian Jelena Jankovic clobbered Kuznetsova 6-3, 6-2 avenging her lost the previous week to the Russian.
Both women have atrocious records in finals with Jankovic winning one of her last six, while Kuznetsova only one of her last ten. Luckily they were facing each other, which meant that someone would improve on that dismal statistic. Despite making more unforced errors than her opponent starting out the first set, Kuznetsova held serve. The Russian even salvaged triple break point by pressuring the Serbian to come up with volleys which the latter missed. Then, with a couple of big serves, Kuznetsova secured the game for 3-2. Subsequently, Svetlana produced a beautiful backhand down the line winner for break point of her own which was then erased by a good serve from Jelena. When Jankovic double faulted, Kuznetsova landed another break point opportunity but was betrayed by another forehand error. Jankovic pulled off the game to level things at 3-3. Immediately, after a few careless forehands, Kuznetsova found herself down triple break point, Jankovic attacked the second serve for a winner 4-3. After holding serve, Jankovic for the third consecutive game arrived at triple break point which she converted to take the first set 6-3.
To open the second set, Jankovic held at love 1-0. After being down 15-40, Kuznetsova tossed in some good serves and minimized her unforced errors to keep within striking distance 1-1. But after Jankovic had no problem holding serve, Kuznetsova reverted to her old pattern and with a myriad of unforced errors was down 15-40. Jankovic not wanting to offend her opponent converted the break point for a 3-1 advantage. In the fifth game, with a forehand down the line winner and a double fault from Jelena, Svetlana had three chances to get back on serve. Unable to shake the unforced errors, Kuznetsova let Jankovic off the hook. Thereafter, Jankovic pressured her opponent’s service game and was rewarded with another break 5-1. Yet, as Jankovic served for the match, Kuznetsova showed signs of resuscitation, coming up with a nice backhand volley winner and some deep returns of serve to break and extend the match 2-5. But trouble was looming on Svetlana’s own serve. Kuznetsova made three consecutive unforced errors to hand her rival triple match point; Jelena sealed the deal with her most potent shot, the backhand down the line for a winner.
The China Open is Jelena’s second title this season; her last was in May on clay in Rome. With it, the Serbian earns valuable ranking points, positioning herself to take back the number one spot next week should top ranked Serena Williams falter.