MIAMI, FL, USA - Down match point in the decider, Yaroslava Shvedova produced some of her best tennis to defeat 2008 runner-up Jelena Jankovic in the first round of the Miami Open on Wednesday, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(3).
"It was an amazing match, a battle there on-court," Shvedova told WTA Insider after the match. "Jelena is a great opponent, a tough opponent, and I'm happy I could manage to play well, relax and enjoy it, which I was missing a little bit for the beginning of the year."
Snapping a seven-match skid that dated back to the quarterfinals of the China Open in Beijing last fall, Shvedova scored a victory in the matchup for the second time, and now both of her career victories against Jankovic have come in final set tiebreaks; the lone win for Shvedova in the pair's previous five matches came 6-3, 6-7(4), 7-6(6) in the second round of the 2009 US Open.
In addition, the Kazakh handed the Serb her fourth straight defeat in the first round after Jankovic reached the semifinals in 2013. While the two hadn't played since 2012 prior to Wednesday's match, a tough battle was to be expected -- the match was the fifth three-set affair between the two players as well.
"She's a fighter and it's always been tough to play against her," Shvedova said. "I was talking with my coach after the match and he reminded me [of their three-setters]. Somehow, our games match-up and it's not easy to finish quickly!"
In an opening set that went with serve for the first nine games, each player only carved out one break point opportunity and proved particularly successful behind their first deliveries -- both won over 70 percent of the points played behind them in the set. However, Jankovic's second break point chance in the set proved to be vital, as she rifled a backhand return winner down the line to seal the opener in 43 minutes.
The second set was nearly identical in both score and minutes played, but the path to pocketing the set proved different for the Kazakh. Shvedova hit back well in the second, winning over 40 percent of points on return and break twice to wrap up the middle set by an identical 6-4 score and send proceedings to a decider.
With Jankovic ahead 3-2 in the final set, the pair rattled off four straight breaks of serve, the last coming as Shvedova broke the Jankovic delivery to 15 as she served for the match. Facing match point at 30-40, Shvedova reeled off the next three and rifled a forehand winner past Jankovic to knot the set at 5-5.
Trailing by a mini-break in the tiebreak, Shvedova rallied to knot the action at 3-3 before winning the next four points to score the come-from-behind win.
Looking to build on her first win of the year in March, Shvedova advances to face No. 17 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second round, against whom she is 2-3 overall.
"My preparation was not good because I got injured in the off-season and I couldn't practice that well," Shvedova said about her start to 2017. "I couldn't get my feeling, my game, my confidence, everything -- and I was just going to tournaments trying to get it. It was not easy sometimes, unlucky -- now I've had some time to rest and relax and clear my mind, [and] I can start to go up from the bottom."
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This article was first seen on www.wtatennis.com.