After Serena Downs Venus, Jankovic Sets Up All-Former Champ Final
By: Nicholas McCarvel
It was family day at the Family Circle Cup. The Williams family, that is.
Saturday afternoon the most famous pair of tennis-playing siblings met in the semifinals in Charleston, two-time champion Serena Williams downing 2004 winner, her older sister, Venus 6-1, 6-2 before a record crowd on Billie Jean King Court.
Saturday's day session attendance, in fact, was the highest the tournament has ever seen with 9,538 tennis enthusiasts coming through the gates.
Serena, who claimed titles here in 2008 and again last year, looks to become the first back-to-back winner since Conchita Martinez won two in a row in 1994 and 1995. Sunday afternoon she'll face another former champ here, 2007 winner Jelena Jankovic, in the final.
Jankovic had a harder time than Serena later in the afternoon, finally solving the riddle that was Stefanie Voegele - who had upset No. 2 seed and 2011 champion Caroline Wozniacki - in three sets, 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-2.
Williams owns a 5-4 career record against the ninth-seeded Serbian, who has won 14 of her last 16 matches on tour, including a title in Bogota on clay earlier this year. They last played at the Olympics a year ago, Serena winning with ease.
"She doesn't miss," said Serena, 31, of the former world No. 1 Jankovic, who she beat in a thrilling US Open final in 2008. "She gets a lot of balls back and likes to go down the line. I'll be ready for her. She's been playing well the past month; she's been really consistent. So I'll have my work cut out for me. It'll be interesting."
Jankovic has been consistent this week for sure, winning five matches - three of them in three sets - to reach her first final in Charleston since winning here in 2007.
"She's a great champion and one of the best - if not the best - in the history of the game," said Jankovic, who beat Serena on clay in 2010 in Rome. "She's the No. 1 player in the world and the toughest opponent to play against, and I've had quite a lot of the success against her. She's the favorite. She hits so aggressively. I'll just go out there and try to play my best tennis and try to go for it."
Serena used that aggressive tennis against older sister Venus, who appeared slowed by a persistent back injury after playing two matches Friday. After winning the first set in 21 minutes, the 15-time Grand Slam singles winner kept her form in the second set, running by Venus in under an hour.
"I love playing this court," said Serena after the win, which was her 14th straight at the Family Circle Cup. "I love this tournament, and I think it's a good clay court. The past two years I've played it's been really, really good."
Jankovic, 28, notched her 500th career win on Friday and had to play really well herself in the third set against world No. 63 Voegele, the lowest-ranked semifinalist here since Sabine Lisicki won the title as the world No. 63 in 2009.
"It's going to be a really tough one," said Jankovic, who beat Venus on her way to her 2007 title. "It would be amazing to have two titles here ... it would be a dream come. I'm going to really try my best. I'm going to give more than my maximum, so we'll see how it goes."