Venus steamrolls Jankovic in season opener
Venus Williams got her 2009 season off to a flying start, crushing Jelena Jankovic in straight sets and inspiring the Americas to victory over Team Europe at Hong Kong’s JB Classic World Team Challenge.
The Wimbledon champion pulled her team level after the Americas lost their opening doubles match before Gisela Dulko beat Agnes Szavay 6-4 6-7(8) 6-3 to take her team through to the gold final where they face Russia, who won all three of their matches against Asia-Pacific.
“I’ve always been a good player off the jump” – Venus Williams
Venus Williams was in control from the off in her match with Jankovic and never let up, racing to a 4-0 lead with a series of unanswerable ground strokes on her way to a 6-2 6-2 win.
Venus Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam champion, broke again in the third game of the second set and went on to seal the match with another break.
“I had a good start. I think it put some pressure on her. I also wasn’t giving her the errors I usually give to her, lots of errors,” said Williams, who also beat Jankovic in their last meeting at the season-ending WTA Tour Championships.
Williams, who won her last two tournaments of 2008, was not surprised to be off to such a strong start despite facing a stern test in her first match. “I’ve always been a good player off the jump. That’s always been the way I’ve played throughout my career,” she said.
In contrast, Jankovic admitted she had found the first match of her season tough. “It was very hard to get into the match. I felt very slow on the court and didn’t really get my rhythm out there,” she said.
“But it’s the first match of the season so I can’t expect myself to play the best tennis, which is normal.”
Jankovic and Michelle Larcher de Brito had beaten Williams and Coco Vandeweghe in the opening clash to give Europe a 1-0 lead. But in the decisive Europe-Americas clash, Dulko took the first set 6-4 and, although edged out in a second set tie-break, held her nerve to take the third 6-3 to seal the win for the Americas.
The Russian pair of Vera Zvonareva and Alexandra Panova beat Asia-Pacific’s Zheng Jie and Zhang Ling 6-2 6-4 in the doubles to go with the team’s two singles wins on Wednesday.
Asia-Pacific and Europe will meet in the silver final.
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