<
>

Jankovic keeps Kuznetsova winless in finals this year

5/20/2007 - Tennis

ROME -- Jelena Jankovic defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5,
6-1 Sunday to win the Italian Open and join Justine Henin as the
only three-time winners on the women's tour this year.

Jankovic also won at Auckland, New Zealand, to open her season
in January and took a clay-court title in Charleston, S.C., last
month. This title -- also on clay -- established her as one of the
favorites for the French Open, which begins next weekend.

"It's an unbelievable win for me," said Jankovic, who will
rise to a career-high No. 4 in the next rankings. "I'm not putting
any pressure on myself. I'm just playing and improving. Every week
I'm getting better."

Jankovic became the first woman since Conchita Martinez 13 years
ago to win this tournament without dropping a set.

"I didn't expect to win like that," Jankovic said. "She's one
of the toughest players on clay. She's been in the final of the
French Open. I play better on hard courts."

"It's an unbelievable win for me," Jankovic said.

Kuznetsova dropped to 0-4 in finals this year. She was also
runner-up in Doha, Qatar; Indian Wells, Calif., and Berlin last
week.

"It's just a bit sad because I felt like I was playing so
well," said Kuznetsova, who hadn't lost a set in reaching the
final. "I was fighting a lot against myself. I didn't play the
game I could have played. I had so many balls and I didn't finish,
that was the key."

Both players struggled to hold serve -- Jankovic because her
serve deserted her for long stretches and Kuznetsova because she
committed too many baseline errors once she put the ball in play.

Jankovic's foot-speed enabled her to make Kuznetsova play more
balls than she may have wanted in several long rallies.

"That was the key, I got so many balls back. She's such a
powerful player," Jankovic said. "Maybe she had in her head that
she had to play amazing shots."