It was well played. Jankovic showed off her incredible defense and really made Serena work for most points. Here's what I noticed:
a) I would say Jankovic hit about 2/3 of her groundstrokes and serves to Serena's forehand, which is not surprising. The same old tactic of hoping Serena will give errors was used. Sometimes Serena did give errors, but unfortunately for Jankovic, most of the time Serena either hit really good forehands or at least got the ball back in play.
b) 1 key difference: serving and overheads. In this match, we saw Serena hold off many break chances by putting in a good serve which set up the rest of the point. We also watched Serena finish off points with overheads at least 15 times during the match. On the flip side, while Jankovic actually served well for her standards tonight, her serve is of course always vulnerable to being attacked. What else did we see? There were a few times when Jankovic had to hit overheads, and could not finish the point (she missed 1, and 2 others were not hit well enough so Serena could continue the rally).
c) Serena's movement and hitting on the run: yeah, there were some patches in this match where Serena's footwork got a little sloppy (especially see the game when Jankovic broke her to up 4-3 in set #2), but for the most part, Serena moved very well. Serena obviously came in prepared to play lots of long points, and she ran down a lot of balls which seemed to frustrate Jankovic. Jankovic seemed to expect Serena to hit more errors in the long points, and we often saw her in disbelief against Steadyrena.
What impressed me is that Serena was patient tonight, and was only aggressive on-the-run when the shot was there. I'm not used to seeing Serena hit so many slice backhands/forehands to keep a point in play, but we saw a lot of this tonight. Jankovic was caught by surprise too it seemed. Smartrena
d) Serena's volleying
This fits in line with Serena being aggressive yet smart. Instead of always staying back at the baseline and trying to out-run Jankovic, Serena came forward when she could to end the point. Jankovic is an excellent passer, but Serena volleyed really well tonight, and not just swinging volleys-I'm talking about classic volleys. Her technique was sound and she didn't rush through them as is sometimes the case with her.
e) Unfortunately for Jankovic, her game plan (at least to me) is becoming a bit predictable. Other than hitting 2/3 of her shots to Serena's forehand side, we also saw her hit the same type of shots. Almost all of the time, Jankovic went for her best shot, the down-the-line backhand when she could. I actually thought Serena left her this opening a little too often, even during points when Serena could keep the ball in play. Obviously this is Jankovic's weapon, and it can finish off points against anyone.
I noticed Jankovic usually only went cross court with her backhand when it looked like Serena was out of position to hit a good backhand, and I thought this was a good play, but again predictable. Serena looked like she knew Jankovic was going to try to break down her forehand, and she was ready for it (although there were a few games when Serena's forehand went off).
f) Jankovic's forehand was more of a weapon tonight, and she hit several great down-the-line forehands. When Serena managed to return Jankovic's down-the-line backhands, Jankovic usually moved in to hit a down-the-line forehand.
g) We talk about Serena's return of serve, but how about Jankovic? Even for someone with such a massive and varied serve as Serena, acing Jankovic or even hitting unreturnables is not an easy task. Sure, Jankovic is not going to hit as many return winners as someone like Serena, but she's going to return most serves, which puts a lot of pressure on her opponents. Jankovic can get back so many serves it's amazing. She may not be the #1 player, but her retrieving skills are #1 IMO.
h) angles, angles, angles!! Both women hit some excellent angles tonight. Jankovic had that great passing shot when Serena was at the net in set 2. Serena has been working on this aspect of her game this year, and it paid off tonight. The backhand to win the match was
How about that forehand-to-forehand cc angle rally we saw? Great tennis.
I think if Jankovic had played someone else tonight, she probably would have won. She forced Serena to beat her in numerous long rallies, and Serena came up with the goods tonight. Well done to both ladies.