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Zi zap zoom

sports Updated: Mar 07, 2008 22:52 IST
Deepika Sharma
Deepika Sharma
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

On Friday strong winds, a mild storm and a thunderous Yan Zi rocked the KSLTA courts.

Such was Zi’s impact that it uprooted Serbian top seed Jelena Jankovic out of the WTA Tier II $6,00,000 Bangalore Open. Zi, from China, won the quarterfinal 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Zi has had a dream run in the tournament so far. Her all-round game, that had earlier sent Maria Kirilenko packed off in the second round, did not stagnate and she played with zeal to oust the World No. 4 Jankovic.

Even though the match was gripping, one could not stop thinking about the mighty clash on Saturday evening. The Williams sisters Serena and Venus face each other in the semifinals, making for a Super Saturday.

Coming back to the match of the day, Jankovic struggled both with her game and her shoulder. It was one of those rare days when you saw her hit anywhere but inside the lines and serve poorly.

The 23-year-old Zi, on the other hand, returned everything that came on her side of the court. She even retrieved shots that looked like clear winners.

Two double faults (in a total of five) and a forehand error Jankovic committed in the eighth game cost the Serbian the opening set.

Zi showed no signs of nerves as she sealed the opener with a forehand down the line.

With the crowd behind her, Jankovic played with more precision and showed better aggression in the second.

She notched the set breaking the Chinese world No. 54 twice

in the fourth and the sixth

games.

But all hopes of a Jankovic comeback in the decider went down the drain when Zi took an invincible 4-1 lead. Her gutsy strokeplay and her adaptability to the bounce was laudable.

At 5-2, Zi got broken but in the next, on Jankovic's serve, a netted forehand from the Serbian brought Zi a place in the semifinal.

She plays Patty Schnyder of Switzerland who beat Uzbekistan’s Akgul Amanmuradova 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (1).

“It is a big win for me,” said Zi. “This is the first time I have reached the semis of a Tier II event.

“The pressure was on Jankovic as she was the top seed. I had nothing to lose.”

On playing Schnyder in the semis, Zi said: “I have never played Patty before but I will try my best.”

Venus and Serena Williams beat their Russian opponents with absolute ease.

The second seeded Williams drubbed seventh seed

Vera Zvonareva 6-4, 6-3 in the quarters. Sister Serena Williams too enjoyed an easy match, defeating Anastasia Rodionova 6-1, 6-4.

Serena said playing Venus would be both tough and

exciting.

“I was feeling the ball better. I did not commit as many errors as I did yesterday,” said Serena.

“Venus is a very tough opponent. I was hoping she would break her leg. It will be a fun match,” she said jokingly.

No takers for Bangalore Open

The stands are empty at the KSLTA. Is Sania Mirza’s absence the reason?

IT HAS been four days of enthralling tennis. We have watched the Williams sisters, Jelena Jankovic and Patty Schnyder in action, among others. But the one thing that has been a disappointment is the poor attendance at the Bangalore Open.

Did Sania Mirza's absence from the event stop people from showing up at the Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association?

Some of the few hundred present to witness Venus Williams in action on a hot Friday afternoon said Mirza’s decision to stay away from tournaments in India did not make a difference. People said the main reason behind the poor crowd turnout was because the sport was not popular amongst the masses.

People did say, however, that Mirza's duty, being a popular figure, should be to entertain the people of her country. On the other hand, some supported her decision.

“It doesn’t matter to me whether she plays here or not. We have come here to watch champions like Serena, Venus and Jankovic,” said Kavya Reddy, who was three years senior to Sania at the NASR school in Hyderabad.

Thomas, a tennis fan who appeared to be in his 50s, said: “What is Sania compared to champions like Venus? Just look at her. She is such a great player.”

He didn’t want to reveal much about himself but said, “I don't think people are not coming because Sania is not playing here. Tennis in India is not a crowd-puller so there will always be a small number of people.”

Bharti Patil, who had accompanied her 14-year-old tennis player daughter, a huge fan of Venus, said being an Indian

tennis star first and an

international face later, Sania should first entertain her countrymen.

“It is very disappointing she is not here. What is the use of having such a star in the country when she can’t play for her own people?” said Bharti.

“Controversies are a part and parcel of a star’s life. They should deal with them with grace. Your game should speak for you,” she added.

But Madhukar, a businessman, feels otherwise. “I am here to watch the international stars. Regards Sania, the mentality of Indians should change if they don't want such a star to miss tournaments like these.”