x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Safina trips Jankovic's march to No 1 ranking

Dinara Safina shattered Jelena Jankovic's chances of securing the women's number one ranking with victory in Los Angeles.

Dinara Safina, left, put a dent to Jelena Jankovic's hopes of becoming the new world No 1.
Dinara Safina, left, put a dent to Jelena Jankovic's hopes of becoming the new world No 1.

LOS ANGELES // Dinara Safina shattered Jelena Jankovic's chances of securing the women's number one ranking with a comprehensive 7-6 6-1 victory in the semi-finals of the Los Angeles Classic. Safina will meet Italy's Flavia Pennetta, who overcame blisters, scorching heat and fervent hometown support to beat Bethanie Mattek 3-6 6-2 7-5, in the final. Jankovic needed to win the tournament to grab the top ranking from Ana Ivanovic, but after losing the first set in a tiebreak was blown off the court in the second.

The Serb, who entered the tournament with a torn meniscus in her left knee, was philosophical about missing her opportunity. "Hopefully my time will come, it's not the end of the world," she said. "I had an injury and was supposed to be out quite a long time and at least I had an opportunity to compete here, even though I wasn't at my best." Safina, who lost the French Open final to Ivanovic, overpowered Jankovic with a huge service game and matched her opponent's scrambling around the court.

The Russian failed to serve out the first set at 5-4, but capitalised on a series of Jankovic errors in the tiebreak to take it 7-3. Jankovic's form then completely deserted her in the second set. "She played very well," said Jankovic. "I had chances in the first set and then I played a bad tiebreaker. In the second set, I couldn't go anymore." Safina, who has now reached the final in four of her past five tournaments, said her run was due to the work she had been doing with new coach, Zelikko Krajan, and fitness trainer, Dejan Vojnovic.

"I'm trusting and listening to them. I know it's the right way every time I step on the court," Safina said. She will now meet Pennetta, who had to fight off three break points at 4-4 in the third set before she sealed victory after two hours 40 minutes on her third match point with a backhand crosscourt return of serve winner. "It's important to win matches like these when you are not playing your best," she said.

* Reuters