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Jankovic defeats Safina for Family Circle Cup title

4/16/2007 - Tennis

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Jelena Jankovic won the biggest match of
her career Sunday, battling a swirling wind to defeat Dinara Safina
6-2, 6-2 in the championship of the $1.3 million Family Circle Cup.

It was the first Tier I final and victory for Jankovic, who was
seeded second here and will improve to No. 7 in the rankings.


The Serbian reached the final by beating Venus Williams in a
three-set match that took just over 2¬Ĺ hours Saturday.


Sunday's match on the green clay at Daniel Island was played
under mostly sunny skies, but with a blustery wind that pushed
would-be winners over the sideline and caused players to miss their
serves.


The winds trailed a storm that moved through earlier Sunday,
prompting a tornado watch and causing the media tent and others to
be evacuated for a time.


A gust of 71 mph was recorded earlier on the nearby Arthur
Ravenel Bridge. When play began, winds were from the southwest at
28 mph with gusts to 43, according to the National Weather Service.


"The wind was so strong and the balls were going all over the
place," Jankovic said after the match as the winds rattled the
media tent. "Is it safe in here?"


Safina had never played in such conditions.


"It was so windy that it was tough to play our game," Safina
agreed. "It was going everywhere. It was difficult to serve, like
you're tossing the ball, and the ball just goes ... flying in front
or like, wherever."



Jankovic won a crystal cup and $196,900. It wasn't her biggest
paycheck. She earned $258,462 for advancing to the semifinals of
the U.S. Open last year, where she lost to Justine Henin.


"I'm so happy I won this title," Jankovic said. "I had an
awesome week here, especially playing yesterday, beating Venus.
Today in the final was a little bit different story because of the
weather."


Safina, of Russia, got $100,000 and a crystal bowl.


Safina, the fourth seed who improved to No. 10 by making the
final, got to the championship without dropping a set in the
tournament.


Her semifinal opponent, Vera Zvonareva, retired Saturday with an
injured wrist, and Friday in her quarterfinal, Tatiana Golovin,
retired at the end of the first set with an injured ankle. It was
the second Tier I final for Safina, who lost to Martina Hingis in
the final at Rome last year.


"No one really loved it but, well, that's the rules," Safina
said of playing in the wind. "We have to play with the wind, so
it's a mental game. So maybe I have to get better in the mental."