Jelena Jankovic dealt with the humidity, the rain delay and her opponent to come out a winner in her opening round at the Cincinnati Masters Monday. The former number one worked through the adversity of all that stood strong to win 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 against Madison Brengle on Stadium Three court.
The 2009 champ kept the action going for herself in the second straight masters tournament she played in. In the opening round, she faced American Madison Brengle for the first time, which made for an interesting matchup.
Though Brengle hasn’t defeated many big named players her tenacity is an on and off process that hasn’t worked in a few months since her great run at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. With the recent victory by Belinda Bencic at the Rogers Cup it leaves low rated tennis players with the thought that they too can make it far against the best.
Though Jankovic didn’t add many points from her second round loss to Rogers Cup finalist Simona Halep her stance at 25 still gives her time to make an interesting move to be in a better position for the US Open.
She had a challenge early from Brengle who responded well on Jankovic’s serve. She opened up to a triple break point but couldn’t lock the win. Instead she allowed the Serb to come and force deuce where the tension was already tightening in the first game. In the end, it was Jankovic taking the opening lead after two breaks with an unforced error from the American.
The Serb completed the triple break against Brengle to jump out 2-0 before the American found her chance to break ahead. Brengle cut the margin in half hold the break on Jankovic. She continued to show better strength against the Serb holding her serve and winning a second break of serve to take the lead 3-2. The breaks of serve continued on but it was the American still out ahead after seven games looking to have control of the set.
Game Eight had another change as Brengle ended the break of service holding her own to lead 5-3 and play for the set. Jankovic made a last ditch effort come back and pressure Brengle to tie the set once more. It was her turn to serve where she fired shots that were unattainable to Jankovic to win the set in 48 minutes. The American was 66 percent on the serve scoring on two third of her shots including eight winners. Jankovic tallied 19 unforced errors in the set despite having 16 winners on Brengle. “I thought I was going to collapse in that first set,” Jankovic said during her on court interview.
She would have another chance at tying the match but her efforts at the start didn’t go well. Brengle handled her serve and then dominated with a love service to taking a 2-0 lead. Jankovic earned a second chance to make her mark and did so with an ace to end the third game splitting the margin.
She gained another pair of wins to take the lead but it was only brief as Brengle attacked to even up through six making it a tight race to the finish if it came in the second set. Each time Jankovic took the lead, Brengle was there to answer for the tie leading the Serb to one mission: hold the lead and never let go. With the 5-4 lead leaning her way, Jankovic played for the match in Game 10. On a 40-30 score in the Serb’s favor, Brengle challenged a call on a shot that she felt didn’t go long.
Video evidence showed that it did indeed go beyond the baseline that forced a deciding third set. Though Brengle continued to have the stronger game between the two, it was going to remain a tight game before problems could arise. Rain began to loom its ugly head around the area threatening to force a delay into the day’s matches.
The set got quickly underway with Jankovic still on the winning streak adding her second before Brengle began the mission to keep level terms with the Serb. Game Three became the game changer for Jankovic to press forward putting some ground between her and Brengle. It led to a 4-1 rout in the third set with Jankovic serving up shots that the American seemed to be unresponsive on.
She lost the will to fight giving what energy she had left to rip out a win. Game Six became the longest of the match as Brengle fought on every point to force deuce. The draw extended for so long that small drops of rain began to fall. On a last point, the American was able to close it out suspending the set thereafter until the rain could stop.
After a two hour and six minute delay, the players got back into the third set with Jankovic serving in the seventh game. It took little effort for the Serbian to etch out another victory as she found herself one game from the match. After one last effort from the American to survive the game, Jankovic remained calm and composed to win the game on a double match point ending the 2 hour and 15 minute battle.
“It was very hot and humid especially when the sun was out, so I was glad I was able to stay strong,” she said. The temperatures were hot and sticky but her ability to close out the match with two straight wins has her moving on to the second round. There she will face two good opponents in American Madison Keys or Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland. Either one who ends up against Jankovic will have plenty on their hands.