The first round of the Taiwan Open saw Kurumi Nara upset Jelena Jankovic in a thrilling three set match which took 2 hours and 45 minutes. Nara failed to take her chances in the first set was lost a 5-2 lead to eventually lose the set, but fought back in the second set before closing out the match in the final set with a nervy service hold.
Jankovic comes back from the brink
Nara had a slow start to the match as Jankovic threatened to break immediately in the opening game of the match after she got to deuce in Nara’s service game. However, she was unable to come up with a break point opportunity as the Japanese played some aggressive tennis to clinch the nervy service hold. The former world number one would definitely rue the missed opportunity to get the early advantage as it was Nara who made the first breakthrough in the match, capturing the service break after saving one game point in the process.
She did not hold onto the lead for a long while, though, as Jankovic used her powerful backhand to break back immediately and return back level. The string of service breaks continued as unforced errors cost Jankovic yet another break of serve. This time, Nara was finally able to consolidate the break of serve but not without any troubles as she had to fend off a break point once again. As both players became more solid on their serves, a service break looked to be unlikely as Nara had the chance to serve out the set at 5-3 soon after.
Fortunately for the Serbian, she stepped up her game at the right time to break back and return on serve all of a sudden, leaving the first set wide open once again. The set was eventually extended to a tiebreak after Jankovic saved a set point in a nervy service game at 5-6 while serving to stay in the set. Going down an early mini-break in the tiebreak, Jankovic looked to have gifted the set to Nara as the Japanese led 3-1 in the early stages.
However, after a few mini breaks, Jankovic took the lead out of nowhere to have a 5-4 advantage and had the chance to serve out the set if she had won all two of her service points after that. She did just so, as she clinched the first set 7-6 after 1 hour and 4 minutes after narrowly escaping from losing the set.
Nara fights back
It was a very tight start to the second set as both players had a comfortable service hold to start the set with. The first break point of the second set came soon after, though, as Nara did not seem to let the loss of the first set affect her by earning a break point at 1-1, threatening to take the early lead. Nevertheless, the experienced veteran came back to hold onto her service game and prevent Nara from running away with a lead.
Nara finally took her chances well as she broke serve in her following return game to take the well-deserved lead and look to send the match into a deciding set. The Japanese had a chance to extend her lead at 4-2 but was pegged back by Jankovic as the Serbian saved two break points to hold her serve and keep herself in contention for a straight sets victory. Jankovic showed some nerves of steel when she held her serve despite being 15-40 down, saving two set points to keep herself in the set, for at least two more games.
Jankovic seemed to be overpowered by Nara’s powerful returns as she was broken once more to gift the Japanese another chance to serve out the second set. This time, she dutifully completed the job as she served out the set to love and leveled the match after 49 minutes of play.
Nara seals up the upset
Jankovic almost drew first blood in the final set when the scoreline was 1-1 as she managed to get to deuce in Nara’s service game, but was unable to get any break point opportunities as Nara eventually held her serve to keep the set on serve. The next break points came much later at 2-3 when Nara was serving, as the Serbian earned two break points, threatening to take the lead.
However, Nara relied on her solid groundstrokes to save both break points and hold her serve, saving her from the brink. Seemingly affected by a lower back injury, Jankovic had troubles with her movement and that showed when she was broken immediately in the following game for Nara to take the lead. Despite earning a break point when Nara was serving for the match, Jankovic was overpowered by Nara’s powerful serve and solid baseline game as the Japanese sealed up the match after a marathon 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Next up for Nara
Kurumi Nara would now face Zhu Lin in the second round and she would be the favourite to progress to the quarterfinals as she definitely has the weapons to defeat the Chinese.