HONG KONG: Former world no.1 Jelena Jankovic sealed the Hong Kong Open on Sunday after beating Germany’s Angelique Kerber 3-6, 7-6, 6-1 in a thrilling comeback from the brink of defeat.
After ousting American legend Venus Williams in the semifinals, the Serb battled hard to gain victory against Kerber and take revenge for a three-set defeat in Wuhan just a few weeks ago.
“It was a tough fight against Angelique… it’s amazing,” Jankovic told reporters after a match that lasted two hours and 28 minutes.
Jankovic started off in Victoria Park under pressure from the German and had her first serve broken. A forehand error in the seventh game pushed her further behind before Kerber sealed the opening set at 6-3.
But the 30-year-old Jankovic held firm, breaking three serves from her rival in the second set despite having the same number of her own broken, leading to a tense tie at 5-5.
Jankovic eventually prevailed in the tiebreak as her stressed 27-year-old rival began fighting fatigue in her attempts to deliver good serves.
The emboldened Jankovic went on to seal the game, and won six out of the seven games in the third set.
“I am lucky to win tonight . . . the third set was very much in my favour because her level dropped. She got really tired,” Jankovic said.
Jankovic had edged past Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam winner, in a 7-5, 6-4 victory a day before, dimming the American’s hopes of securing enough points to make it to the top eight for the WTA finals in Singapore.
Kerber would also have qualified for Singapore had she not lost to Jankovic, who was preparing to end her own season.
She said in the post-match press conference that she is still “trying” for Singapore for the rest of the season but it also depends on how a back issue plays out.
“I entered Moscow for the moment…let’s see…how fast I can recover,” she said.
Having won her second WTA title of the year, Jankovic, who suffered from injuries earlier in the year, said: “I think I proved I can play at the top level.”
“I just want to continue to work hard and believe in myself that I could do it… like in previous years.”