Indian Wells, March 23 (IANS) Romanian tennis star Simona Halep claimed a hard-fought 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory over the former World No.1 Jelena Jankovic in BNP Paribas Open women’s singles final, giving her the biggest tennis title of her career.
World No.3 Halep, now highest-ranked Romaninan woman ever, won four of the final five games to earn the marathon victory in two hours, 37 minutes on Sunday. But both players had difficulty holding their serves throughout as there were a total of 18 breaks, reports Xinhua.
“First of all I want to congratulate Jelena, you were amazing. Well done for a great two weeks here. You did a great job, and it was an amazing final,” Halep, 23, said after winning her third title of the year.
“I’m really happy I could win today. This is my biggest title and I’ll never forget it.”
Jankovic, 30, began more aggressively, looking in control after winning the first set with three breaks of serve. Halep struggled with a left toe injury and had the trainer look at it before the second set.
The second set was a topsy-turvy affair with the players exchanging six breaks of serve before Halep held and broke Jankovic to level the match.
There was nothing routine about the decider, as the players traded breaks three times back and forth. But again it was Halep who came through in crunch time, breaking Jankovic one last time in the final game of the match to finally win it.
“Simona was unbelievable,” said 2010 Indian Wells champion Jankovic in her speech at the trophy ceremony.
“We were running like two dogs and in the end I couldn’t keep up any more. She’s the younger one.”
Despite the loss, it was a remarkable tournament for Jankovic, who was wondering if she could even compete at the BNP Paribas Open because of a torn leg muscle.
Besides Jankovic, just three other women were in the Indian Wells singles draw in both 2001, when she made her debut, and 2015: Daniela Hantuchova, Francesca Schiavone and Serena Williams.