Spain’s Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez chopped, sliced, drop-shotted, chipped and out-charged the field this week at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, defeated former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic 7-6(5), 7-5 for her third career title.
Martinez Sanchez’s no-rhythm game claimed a number or prominent scalps during the week, including another former No. 1-ranked Serb in Ana Ivanovic, and current world No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki.
“My game isn’t typical, not even to the other Spanish players, but that’s the key. I like doing a lot of different things, coming to the net, playing drop shots,” Martinez Sanchez said. “When I was small, Martina Navratilova was still on the TV, and since I was young I have always liked coming to the net. When I was seven or eight I always hit the ball then went straight into the net.”
Martinez Sanchez hung on after blowing a 5-2 lead in the first set, and a 5-3 lead in the second set.
“This is a very important moment. I worked so hard to get here, and even if this goes down in history, it hasn’t sunken in yet,” Martinez Sanchez said. “In the first round I was losing. The key is to fight, fight, fight to the end. You don’t have to set a limit for yourself.”
Jankovic beat both Williams sisters, Serena and Venus, en route to the final, with the younger Williams sister squandering a match point. She joined Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Steffi Graf, Martina Hingis, Kim Clijsters (twice), Lindsay Davenport and Justine Henin as players to beat both sisters at the same event.
“Maria Jose is very different from most girls,” Jankovic said. “She makes a lot of drop shots and volleys, and she’s also left-handed, which makes it a little bit tricky to play her. I tried my best. I came back in both sets and at those times I prayed to hold my serve. I didn’t manage it today. She won and credit to her.”
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