Wimbledon 2015: Defending champion Petra Kvitova crashes out to Jelena Jankovic

Jankovic won 3-6 7-5 6-4

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The Independent Online

Petra Kvitova, the reigning Wimbledon champion, was knocked out by Jelena Jankovic in the third round yesterday. A match that started in desultory fashion ended in thrilling style as the Serbian fought back from a set and 3-1 down to win 3-6 7-5 6-4.

“I’m overwhelmed, I’m so excited,” said Jankovic, the 28th seed. “Playing on grass is not easy for me and she was playing great tennis. But after I won the second set, I kept on trying. To beat a two-time Wimbledon champion is amazing and beating her gives me a lot of confidence for the rest of the tournament.”

Jankovic went into the match on Centre Court having played roughly three times longer than her opponent, the second seed,  in the past week – four hours, 41 minutes against Kvitova’s meagre one hour, 34 minutes (including a 36-minute win over Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands in the first round).

Kvitova, who also won Wimbledon in 2011, appeared to want to finish things briskly against the Serbian as she took a patchy first set in 29 minutes. At 3-1 down in the second, it looked as if Jankovic was to be another quick scalp, but she fought back to even the set at 4-4. She then broke Kvitova for the first time in the match and the Serbian’s serve started to bring dividends, and she took the set 7-5.

Kvitova took a lengthy toilet break (unlike medical time-outs there is no designated time limit) and the third set was even until 4-4 as both players delivered perfect service games and matched each other for accuracy on ground strokes. But serving at 5-4, 30-40 down, the left-handed Kvitova was guilty of a weak delivery and could only send Jankovic’s powerful return into the net.

“I’m not really sure what happened out there,” Kvitova said. “She started serving well and everything I tried didn’t seem to work.”

She added that she thought that her lack of time on the courts here in previous matches was not a factor in her loss. “I was prepared for this match and my opponent played really well.”

Jankovic now meets Agnieszka Radwanska, who despatched Casey Dellacqua of Australia 6-1 6-4. The Pole, who was runner-up in 2012 and is seeded 13, needed just 63 minutes to reach the last 16. She said after her win that playing on grass makes everything easier for her style of play. “The surface makes a huge difference. Everything is just easier for me.”

Caroline Wozniacki, a former world No 1 who has yet to win a slam, got one round nearer achieving that with an efficient 6-2 6-2 defeat of Camila Giorgi. The Italian is always a dangerous player on grass – she won at s’-Hertogenbosch last month – but Wozniacki, the  fifth seed forced her hard-hitting opponent into errors.

The Dane said after the match: “You never really feel comfortable against a player like her. She hits the ball hard but, thankfully, it wasn’t going in that much.”

Wozniacki’s opponent in the last 16 – with all eight matches due to be played tomorrow – is Garbine Muguruza of Spain, who was involved in a long tussle with 10th seed Angelique Kerber of Germany, eventually winning 7-6 1-6 6-2 after two hours, 35 minutes. Kerber was a semi-finalist at Wimbledon in 2012, but the Spaniard played a more tactical game for victory.

Two matches yesterday involved unseeded pairings; in the first, Monica Niculescu of Romania, ranked 48 in the world, defeated the Czech Kristyna Pliskova, 86 places below her, 6-3 7-5. In the second, Olga Govortsova of Belarus defeated Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia 7-6  6-3.

Govortsova now meets the American Madison Keys, the 21st seed, who won 6-4 6-4 in 69 minutes against the unseeded Tatjana Maria of Germany. Much has been expected of the 20-year-old American, who has a good game for grass and won at Eastbourne last year, only to retire injured in the third round in SW19.

Keys said after her win, during which she served nine aces: “I was really focused, was consistent with my serve and was able to keep the lead.”

Niculescu meets Timea Bacsinszky, the Swiss No 1 and 15th seed, who swept past 18th seed Sabine Lisicki of Germany 6-3 6-2. Lisicki was runner-up here in 2013 but despite some strong serving – including five aces – she did not have enough to topple her opponent.