Doha — Angelique Kerber upset the seedings to give herself a chance of winning the fourth title of her career as she beat Jelena Jankovic in the Qatar Open semi-finals on Saturday.
The sixth-seeded German, who has already played 20 matches this year, uses Doha as her training base and looked at home as she quelled a spirited fight-back from the fifth-seeded Jankovic.
That had looked likely to take the match to a third set until her recovery ended in dramatic misfortune.
The former world number one from Serbia was four times within two points of forcing the decider but went down 6-1, 7-6 (8-6) when Kerber's retrieving drive under pressure caught the net cord and fell dead.
Jankovic, who had become the aggressor in a majority of the rallies in the second set, looked as if she had seen a ghost.
Kerber was merely relieved to have snatched victory any way she could, especially as she had also won the first set in their encounter in Brisbane last month but still lost.
“I don't know if I would have had enough left to win it in a third set,” she said after the engrossing one-hour 47 minute encounter.
“But I think I played better and more aggressively in the big moments this time. I wasn't surprised that Jelena came back that way.”
A major part of the success came because Kerber prevailed in two monster games in the middle of the second set, one with six deuces, the other with seven.
She saved three break points in the first and three game points in the second, and could easily have been 2-5 down.
At this stage Jankovic was hitting the harder of the two and had productive spells when she directed attacks to the Kerber backhand before trying to open up the court with angles. She was also the more effective player at the net.
There was more danger when Jankovic came from 3-5 down to lead 6-5, but could not get further than two deuces in the 12th game nor further than 5-4 up in the tie-break.
In those vital last two rallies, Kerber first defended tenaciously and then traded blow-for-blow to force a Jankovic forehand to slide wide. And then on match point she saw the ball strike the tape and take that match-deciding plunge.
“I was just happy that the ball went over,” she admitted, before adding: “I did say sorry.”
In the final she will play the winner of Agnieszka Radwanska, the second-seeded Pole, and Simona Halep, the WTA Tour's newcomer of the year from Romania, who had upset the seedings to reach the semi-finals. – Sapa-AFP