Third seed Jelena Jankovic of Serbia advanced to the second round of the Australian Open after a long and totally undecided encounter with Austrian prodigy Tamira Paszek.
Except for a few moments in the match when she really shined, Jankovic made lots of double faults and unforced errors, easily lost her service games, nothing went her way, and on top of all that, struggled with the injury she sustained in the Hopman Cup. The 17-year-old Paszek, on the other hand, was strong, her shots were fast and precise, and overall played much better.
So why didn’t Paszek win? In short — Jankovic is a fighter, Paszek is still inexperienced. I think Paszek definitely played good enough to win this match, after all she had three match points, but she was too inexperienced to take the last step and officially finish it. Jankovic, on the other hand, never gave up, and survived numerous hopeless situations in the match; her constant prayers might have helped as well.
First set: Horrible start for Jankovic who made many unnecessary mistakes, while Paszek returned every ball. Jankovic’s game was so helpless that she seemed ashamed of her performance. Let’s just say this, in the first set Jankovic’s first serve percentage was 38, she doubled-faulted 6 times and made 20 unforced errors.
Second set: Jankovic improved in the second set, having a few shining moments where she showed her expertise. In the fourth game of the set Jankovic broke Paszek’s serve. It was not at all easy for Jankovic to hold her own serve, but she battled and took the match to the decider.
Third set: Well, this one was long and painful to watch for the fans of both players. At first, it seemed that Jankovic could pack her bags as Paszek made two breaks at the start of the deciding set for a 3-0 lead. But no, Jankovic didn’t want to say goodbye. JJ was fighting, but still not well enough to level the result completely, so Paszek served for the match at 5-4. And that’s when we had a heart-stopping moment. On Paszek’s first match point, Jankovic was running all over the court, and her fierce determination and a considerable amount of luck, let her stay in the match. Three times during this point I thought it was over for Jankovic, but no! Amazing! Now we’re at 5-all. What followed was not less exciting. Jankovic immediately lost her serve and Paszek earned herself another two match points. Jankovic returned to the match, but simply couldn’t hold her serve, and never took full advantage of the opportunity. In short, we had a series of breaks — in this set only 7 out of 22 games were not breaks! Finally, at 10-all JJ held her serve and then used her second match point to break Paszek and reach the second round of the Australian Open.
After three hours and ten minutes Jankovic won 2-6 6-2 12-10 and fell to her knees. (photo via Getty Images)