WTA Shenzhen: Simona Halep powers through Jelena Jankovic

The Shenzhen Open draw was highlighted by one particular matchup; the match between Simona Halep and Jelena Jankovic. Simona Halep is the second seed here at in Shenzhen, but she drew her toughest opponent available as Jelena Jankovic was a former world number one and a grand slam finalist at the US Open in 2008. Although the 2014 Roland Garros finalist leads their head to head record by 6-1, Jankovic is still a dangerous opponent as she has the ability to beat all the top players. Halep won the battle in three sets, in just 10 minutes under the two-hour mark. Despite a mid-match wobble by the Romanian, she still played her close-to-best tennis with her improved serving throughout the match.

Simona Halep in her 2015 Indian Wells finals match against Jelena Jankovic | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images North America
Simona Halep in her 2015 Indian Wells finals match against Jelena Jankovic | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images North America

Halep comes out firing

Halep looked especially fresh for her first match during the new year, making the first breakthrough early on in the set after she broke Jankovic’s service game when she capitalized on her first break point opportunity of the match. Looking comfortable in her service games, Halep opened up a 3-0 lead within the first 10 minutes of the match. Halep then further extended her lead by breaking serve and consolidating the break with some excellent offensive style of play, winning eight straight points to have a 5-0 lead. Jankovic finally got on the board at 1-5, preventing Halep from winning the first bagel of 2017. However, the Romanian was just too good for the former world number one, serving the set out in the next game to clinch the first set in just under half an hour. Halep won double the points Jankovic did and had a +7 difference in her winners to unforced errors count.

Jankovic levels the match

Surprisingly, it was the Serbian who made the first breakthrough in the second set, winning the first break point of the second set and getting a 3-1 lead after the former world number one stepped up her game and played freely. Jankovic did not look back after having the early advantage, having comfortable service games in the rest of the set and thus closing out the set 6-3 in just 29 minutes.

Jelena Jankovic at the 2015 Indian Wells, the last time she took a set off Simona Halep | Photo: Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
Jelena Jankovic at the 2015 Indian Wells, the last time she took a set off Simona Halep | Photo: Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Jankovic makes first breakthrough but gets pegged back

The Serbian came from 30-0 down in Halep’s opening service game to break her and start the final set positively and looked on course for an upset. However, her celebrations were short-lived as Halep broke to love immediately, and levelled the final set.

Halep strolls to victory

The final set remained on serve until 3-2, where Halep broke Jankovic, coming from 30-0 to do so. Halep did not let her well-deserved lead slip away from her easily, and Jankovic was seemingly affected by a foot injury, which she called for medical treatment on. After successfully holding her serve to stay in the match, it proved to be a consolation game as Halep served out the match comfortably to get a good win to start 2017 with. Jankovic had a poor performance on her second serves, winning only 25% of them throughout the match.

Halep progresses to the second round

With this well-deserved victory, Halep reached the second round and would face Katerina Siniakova there, who defeated Peng Shuai in straight sets. The pair have not met before in history, and Halep should have the ability to get past her in straight sets.

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