By Curt Janka
CARLSBAD, California â€“ After her previous match, Jelena Jankovic said she hoped to start her comeback. With two match points in her favor during her quarterfinal at The Mercury Insurance Open, it looked like she was on her way to a winning streak at the least. Thatâ€™s when qualifier Yung-Jan Chan turned everything around and notched a come-from-behind upset, 6-7, 7-6, 7-5. Jankovic, ranked No. 19, and Chan, ranked No. 161, battled back-and-forth for over three hours in a match that may have lacked in consistent quality but compensated with suspense and drama.
During the three hours and 13 minutes played under the heat of the midday Southern California sun, there were 15 breaks of serve, two calls for coaches and one medical timeout and a broken string on the final point. At the end of each set, the question loomed. Could the server hold? In the final game of the final set, Chan answered the question with a â€œYesâ€ and secured her place in the semifinal.
While Jankovic hit some brilliant backhand winners, her forehand was a liability, especially matched up against Chanâ€™s forehand, which was used to put Jankovic on the run.
Having won the first set and up 3-1 in the second, Jankovic looked to be firmly in control of the match. Chan seemed fatigued at that point and called for the trainer. Jankovic admits her concentration wandered at that point. â€œAfter that I had three bad games. I lost my focus, and that kind of brought her back into the match.â€
â€œI fought back,â€ she continued, â€œI was in there and had match points in that tiebreaker. When I lost the second set, it was so tough mentally, and of course physically, because we were playing in the heat. The forehand was letting me down. I shanked so many balls when I shouldnâ€™t have.â€
Asked if it was unlucky that she broke a string on the final point she said â€œIn sports you need luck, you need skillâ€¦ you need a lot of things. I couldnâ€™t hit the ball because my racquet was broken. Iâ€™m not saying I would have won the match if that didnâ€™t happen, but at least I didnâ€™t want to lose in that way.â€
She also gave credit to her opponent for never going away and staying tough. â€œShe was fighting. She was hanging in there. So at the end she deserved to win.â€
The win ranks high in Chanâ€™s memory of her career. â€œI think it could be one of the best matches in my career. It feels very special for me because she was a former number one. Also, I had surgery at the end of last year, and this is my best result since the surgery.â€
Last December, Chan had an emergency surgery to remove a 7cm cyst from her stomach. She was off the tour for 3 months and recovery has been slow. Illness and injury have taken dents out of her time on tour over the last few years.
Despite doubles success in the past, she would like to focus more now on her singles career. â€œNow this time I feel like I will be 23 soon and I donâ€™t have time to waste. So I guess I need to focus on one thing first a little bit more and weâ€™ll see how it goes. This tournament really shows me that I still can play.â€
Asked how she got her â€œAmericanâ€ name, Latisha, she explained, â€œAll Taiwanese who speak English will try to get an English name. I was searching by internet and once asked a tennis playerâ€” heâ€™s in Taiwan and lives in United States for a long time, so I ask him for any good names that would fit my personality.â€
â€œHe gave me three. Then he told me what it means, and finally I choose Latisha. He says it means a black girl who really loves sports. I said, Yeah, Iâ€™m going to take that.â€ She laughed and recalled how Serena asked her about last week in Stanford during the doubles final, â€œShe said, is that your name Latisha? I was like, Yeah. She was like, do you know that itâ€™s a black name? I said, Yeah, and she said, Oh thatâ€™s cool. It was really fun.â€
In the semifinals, Latisha will play the winner between Marion Bartoli and Christina McHale.
Earlier in the day, Dominka Cibulkova played a streaky match but did just enough to defeat Urszula Radwanska 6-4, 6-4 in the first quarterfinal. Cibulkova will play Nadia Petrova in the other semifinal.