Match point number two. The ball landed on the baseline. The linesman called it out; just when Zi Yan had started to celebrate, the umpire over-ruled it. It's not often that the Chinese girl had come so close to beating a top-five player. She would have to do it all over again; make a shot, force the error. And that's exactly what she did.
Yan refused to be overwhelmed. Everytime Jelena Jankovic hit a shot that would have been a winner against most players, there she was, small and lean, both hands firmly on the racquet, retrieving.
Frustrated by the sheer tenacity of Yan, top seed Jankovic, hampered by a shoulder injury, was ousted 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 from the WTA Bangalore Open after a gripping contest that lasted just over an hour on Friday.
"I gave her the whole match basically," said Jankovic, who walked into the press room straight after the match.
"I was not feeling the ball at all today. I made too many bad mistakes, too many wrong options. I made some double faults at a time that I shouldn't have. She was very solid today. I was either hitting a winner or making mistakes. Unfortunately, I made more mistakes."
The world number four had called for a medical time-out at 4-1 in the third set due to a shoulder strain.
"I didn't know where it came from. I was practicing alright till yesterday and today I had some pain in the shoulder and neck. I guess serving for three sets didn't help either, but I shouldn't have let the match go into three sets. I was okay with my groundstrokes but it was hampering my serve, and if you don't serve well, and don't get a lot of first serves in, it doesn't help."
Jankovic had said even after her straight-set win over Sanda Mamic in the second round she was not comfortable with the bouncy court. The Serb again looked out of rhythm, struggling to keepthe ball in, and Yan out of the game.
Images: Saree state of affairs
Yanon the other hand, having saved three match points to upset eighth seed Maria Kirilenko in the first round, looked like she belonged there, among the big girls and under the spotlight. She began the first set confidently and broke Jankovic in the eighth game to take the decisive lead.
Inthe second, Jankovic upped the tempo. She prowled on the ball, using her lethal double-handed backhand to telling effect. Yan was taken to deuce in three of her four service games, as she let Jankovic set up the point with strong returns.
"I was a little slow in the second set," said Yan, who was part of the team -- with Jie Zheng --who won China their first Grand Slam title in Australia two years ago. "I was standing back a lot, so she was able to control the rallies."
Inthe decider, Jankovic was groping for ideas and grew increasingly frustrated as the set went on. She lost her first two service games and was staring at a 4-0 deficit. Everytime she would set up the point, trying to move Yan out of the court or kill the volley, the Chinese made her put in more effort, play the extra shot, and invariably Jankovic would give in.
Her back-hand cross-courts were flying out and the first-serve percentage dropped to 52.
Having lost her first two service games, Jankovic barely held on to the third at 2-5down. She saved two match points, including the reprieve from the chair umpire, but played a poor return following game to hand Yan her biggest scalp.
The Chinese 23-year-old will meet fourth seed Patty Schnyder in Saturday's semi-final, while Venus and Serena Williams complete the line-up.