Former world number one Lindsay Davenport wrote another chapter Friday in her fairy-tale return to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, overcoming temperamental top seed Jelena Jankovic to reach the semifinals of the Commonwealth Bank Tennis Classic.
It was a see-saw battle of patchy play, swinging fortunes and disputed line calls, with world number three Jankovic letting her emotions get the better of her to lose 4-6, 6-2, 2-6. As Davenport served at match point, her rattled Serbian opponent half-heartedly blocked the ball over the baseline to end the 100-minute match.
Jankovic, who led 4-0 in the first set before Davenport reduced her unforced errors and won seven games in a row, could only rue her missed chances and blame umpire Asitha Attygala for overruling several close calls.
"First of all, I should have won it in two sets," the 22-year-old from Belgrade said. "I got flat (in the first set), and she started playing better."
She recouped to take seven consecutive games, hitting the ball cleaner and moving the 1.89-meter tall American around the hard court. It appeared the 31-year-old Davenport, who gave birth to a son in June, would be unable to match the pace of her younger opponent.
But she held serve and then broke Jankovic to grabbed a slender lead. The Jankovic meltdown began at deuce at 3-2 on Davenport's serve. A swinging serve from the American was called out by the linesman, but quickly overruled by Attygala.
Jankovic shrieked in anger, "Why do you always do the opposite? You call her serve in when it's out and out when it's in."
Davenport held for 4-2, and although Jankovic opened her own service game with a double fault, she pulled ahead to 40-15. After a brief baseline exchange, a Davenport backhand was called long by the linesman, and again the Sri Lankan umpire overruled.
Jankovic pleaded with the umpire but to no avail. She lost the next point, double faulted, bounced her racket on the court and then sprayed a unforced error to lose the game. With the crowd cheering her on, she continued her diatribe against Attygala during the changeover.
It was left to Davenport to close out the match against an opponent who had completely lost her concentration. Still, when a Davenport serve on the line at 30-0 was called out, Jankovic walked to the ad court to acknowledge the ace. It was her way of proving a point.
Jankovic called the final set a "nightmare ... the umpire was terrible, especially on the calls on Lindsay's serve ... "
Davenport was unfazed by Jankovic's histrionics, keeping the ball in play and letting the Serb make errors.
"You see an opponent self-destruct, you just want to play high-percentage shots," said the 2005 Bali champion, who now holds a 4-0 match record against Jankovic.
The American pulled out of her doubles semifinal Friday night with partner Daniela Hantuchova due to a left forearm strain, but should be fit to play surprise semifinalist Sara Errani of Italy on Saturday.
Errani, the world number 90 who upset her doubles partner and third seed Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain in a marathon match Thursday, made short work of seventh seed Aiko Nakamura of Japan 6-1, 6-2.
The first semifinal, starting at 4:30 p.m., will be between Slovakian second seed Hantuchova and 17-year-old qualifier Sorana Cirstea of Romania. Hantuchova outclassed another 17-year-old qualifier Ayumi Morita of Japan 6-2, 6-1.
Cirstea, who shocked third seed Patty Schnyder of Switzerland on Thursday, edged compatriot Edina Gallovits 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3).
As much as Jelena can make excuses on how she lost you gotta give credit to lindsay, she just went out there & played her game without any fuss or distraction which has what gained her the win. Besides Lindsay would of won if Jelena wasn't upset with the line calls etc.
As "nice" as everyone says Jelena is, she sure does have quite a few displays of not being so nice!
"Hatred is the coward's revenge for being intimidated" - George Bernard Shaw
"And for the best of the teen-agers who followed her, and who occasionally referred to her as over the hill, Graf had a ready answer: against top-ranked Martina Hingis, Graf wound up 7-2. Graf's stirring 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 throttling of Hingis at the French Open final this June was perhaps the most emphatic parting shot the game has ever seen. "