NEW YORK (Reuters) - Jelena Jankovic’s U.S. Open hopes were literally blown away on Saturday when she was beaten 6-2 7-6 by Kaia Kanepi of Estonia in a windy third round at Flushing Meadows.
The fourth-seeded Jankovic was unable to control her serve and groundstrokes in the gusting winds inside Arthur Ashe Stadium as Kanepi held her game together to reach the last 16 in New York for the first time.
“The conditions were really, really tough,” former world number one Jankovic said. “I had a really hard time hitting the balls and obviously they were going all over the place.
One point, when Jankovic hit the edge of her frame with a serve and the ball shot straight up in the air and into the stands, summed up her problems.
By contrast, the 25-year-old Kanepi, who has climbed more than 100 places in the rankings since May thanks largely to a quarter-final run at Wimbledon, looked confident.
After dominating the first set, she broke the Jankovic serve to lead 5-3 in the second only to falter and allow Jankovic back into the match.
The Serbian then broke to lead 6-5 and serve for the set but crumbled as Kanepi broke back and then played an almost flawless tiebreak to win it 7-1 and seal victory.
Kanepi said the conditions were not the only factor in dropping her serve at 5-3.
“I don’t think it was because of the wind, I think it was because of the head,” she said. “In these situations, most of us start to think too much.”
At the end of 2009, Kanepi lost in the first round in 11 straight tournaments, prompting her to change her game a little, to good effect.
“I am trying to be more patient and not try to finish the point so quickly,” she said.
“Before I could play very well one day and next day I would hit everything out. I changed that a bit and I think confidence is much higher because of good wins.”
Kanepi now plays either Belgian 15th seed Yanina Wickmayer or Patty Schnyder of Switzerland.
Editing by Frank Pingue