Wed, Feb 01, 2017 - Page 7 News List

Jankovic stunned, Svitolina cruises

ALL-ASIAN SHOWDOWN:Kurumi Nara’s reward for her marathon victory over former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic was a showdown with world No. 122 Zhu Lin

By Dave Carroll and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporters

Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina returns to Evgeniya Rodina of Russia in their Taiwan Open first-round singles match at the Taipei Arena yesterday.

Photo: Lin Fang-hsi, Taipei Times

Japan’s Kurumi Nara provided the biggest shock of the second day of the Taiwan Open at the Taipei Arena yesterday, ousting former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic in the first round, while top seed Elina Svitolina cruised into the second round.

World No. 87 Nara rallied from a set down to beat the Serbian eighth seed 6-7 (4/7), 7-5, 6-4 in a match lasting 2 hours, 41 minutes in which the world No. 49 called for two medical timeouts due to back pain.

“I had tried my best today, but unfortunately the back pain made it really difficult to play,” Jankovic said. “It was very disappointing because I wanted to play well for the fans and have a good result at this tournament, but it was just not good enough for me today.”

“I have been playing with injuries for a while and I have to work harder during the game. Your body will try to compensate for one injury by working harder in other parts of the body, and [that] also led to the knee problem and other injuries,” she said. “The pain made it hard to run and I could not make some shots that I wanted to. So, unfortunately, I am physically not in my best form right now, especially with the back pain problem ... [but] I am not a person to just give up in a match and insisted to play to the end, but the pain did affect my performance today.”

Despite her injury woes, the Serbian congratulated her opponent on the victory.

“All credit to her [Nara], she played a solid game with her running and volley shots. She did very well for her win,” Jankovic said.

Nara, who saved eight of 11 break points and converted five of 13, winning 119 of the 224 points contested, said she was aware of Jankovic’s injury issues.

“Yes, I heard she had some injuries and took timeouts, but I try not to think about her and just focus on how I was playing,” Nara said. “Jankovic is very tough to play against and I had to be better to win. We had met three times before and she has beaten me in all three matches so I am very happy for this win. This result gives me good confidence for upcoming tournaments and my goal is to break into the top 50 in the world this year.”

Nara faces China’s Zhu Lin in the second round after the world No. 122 defeated Magda Linette of Poland 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.

World No. 13 Svitolina had a much easier time progressing to the second round.

The Ukrainian took just 58 minutes to see off Evgeniya Rodina of Russia 6-0, 6-3.

“Today my strategy was to be aggressive and go on the attack when given the chance,” the top seed said. “During the game, I also got motivated by many fans cheering for me and holding up signs with my name. So that motivated me to play better, then go on to win this match.”

Svitolina did not face a single break point and converted four of six, winning 53 of the 83 points contested to advance to a second-round clash with Czech qualifier Lucie Hradecka, who defeated Ukraine’s Kateryna Kozlova 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 6-1 in 2 hours, 20 minutes.

French third seed Caroline Garcia also advanced to the second round with a convincing 6-3, 6-2 win over Marina Erakovic of New Zealand in 67 minutes.

The world No. 25 next faces Mandy Minella of Luxembourg, who advance on Monday.

Second seed Samantha Stosur of Australia, the world No. 23, took 1 hour, 20 minutes to see off Danka Kovinic of Montenegro 6-2, 6-4 and set up a second-round clash with either Dalila Jakupovic of Slovenia or former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone of Italy.

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