Serbian Jelena Jankovic, second seed and world number four, outlasted Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro in the finals of the Andalucia Tennis Experience, a new event on the WTA tour. Jankovic, playing in her first final this year, won in three tough sets on clay 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 for her tenth career title.
With Suarez Navarro ranked 32nd and with this being her debut in a WTA final, for Jankovic, this match should have been a walk in the park. Instead, the 19 year-old Spaniard demonstrated that her reaching the quarterfinals of the 2008 French and 2009 Australian Open was no aberration.
After Jankovic opened the match holding at love and Suarez Navarro tied the set at 1 all, the Spaniard made a couple of backhand winners giving her three chances to break. However, thanks to a kind net court winner and forehand errors by Carla, Jelena came out unscathed. Subsequently, Jankovic harassed her rival’s forehand and manufactured a break for a 3-1 lead. With Jelena committing two consecutive backhand errors, Carla again had triple break point. With a smoking up the line forehand, the Spaniard provoked a backhand error from the Serb to get back on serve. Disappointingly, in the next game, Suarez Navarro smashed an overhead into the net giving Jankovic back the advantage. This proved to be the difference in Jelena winning the first set.
Suarez Navarro began the proceedings in the second set with forehand and backhand down the line winners. After getting to 40-0, the Spaniard made a series of errors that resulted in Jankovic breaking for 1-0. Yet, Suarez Navarro showed she was no push over and battled back. With Jelena having two game points, Carla made a forehand up the line winner and pressured errors from her opponent for deuce. Encouraged by her home audience, the Spaniard broke when Jankovic’s crosscourt forehand went out of bounce. After holding serve for 2-1, Suarez Navarro capitalized on an error filled game by Jankovic to jump ahead 3-1. The rest of the set, the Spaniard dominated on the long points while the errors accumulated from the Serb. Carla served out the set and tied the match.
With momentum and not intimidated by the occasion, Suarez Navarro started the third by hitting a forehand down the line winner to convert double break point. But, in the next game, the forehand was a liability as it cost the Spaniard the lead. Perhaps a tad discouraged, Suarez Navarro’s backhand also began to misfire allowing Jankovic to take a 5-1, double break lead. Still, as Jankovic served for the championship, Suarez Navarro’s backhand came back to life and with winners, she broke for 5-2. Then, with a forehand winner, the Spaniard saved match point and held for 5-3. With Jankovic serving for the match a second time, Suarez Navarro connected on a backhand down the line winner for deuce, then with an overhead put away had a break point. However, a forehand crosscourt error denied the Spaniard a shot glory. In the end, on Jelena’s fifth match point, Carla’s return found the net and a relieved Jankovic had her first title of 2009.
For Jelena this victory is a great building block although she did not face a single top twenty rival as Serena Williams the top seed lost in the first round. Russian Dinara Safina will now replace Serena at number one.