Robson vs Jankovic: youth over might?

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Robson’s youthful vigor vs Jankovic’s might?

Brit Laura Robson and Serbian Jelena Jankovic will kick off round 1 of the Ladies’ Singles on the Center Court at Wimbledon later on today. At just 16 years of age, Robson obviously has her work cut out for her, and faces a gargantuan feat in the face of fourth seeded Jelena Jankovic. The ladies’ match will take place at the same time that the Federer vs Falla match is scheduled.

Laura Robson

Currently ranked 236th on the WTA Tour, Robson is gearing up for the biggest match to date in her short career.

After she shone at the Roland Garros Juniors’ Tournaments, she has raised the expectations for this match quite high, maybe even a bit too much so.

 It’s true that she has proven that her grass court game is up to par, and has managed to win a set against Hantuchova last year. And it has been two years since she won the junior girls title at the All England Club, at the tender age of 14.  Following her junior girls title win, officials at the Lawn Tennis Association, as well as her cautious team of managers at Octagon, have been somewhat slow to throw her into the den with the tougher competition, against the bigger girls.  The few times that Robson has faced the older players, she has not shied away. With enough fortitude and a tougher serve, Robson may hold her game against Jankovic.

Jelena Jankovic

Having reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 2008, Jankovic went on to gain a victory over the defending champion Serena Williams, with a score of 6–3, 6–4. However, she ended up losing to Maria Sharapova in the semifinals, being ousted with a lackluster performance of 6–3, 6–1 during her third semifinals appearance in a Grand Slam singles event.

Although a Grand Slam singles event has eluded her, the 23-year-old Jankovic has won the Ladies’ Doubles trophy back in 2007, which she shared with partner Jamie Murray.

Jankovic has shown moments of incredible brilliance, which included defeating players in the ranks of Martina Hingis, Sam Stosur, Venus Williams, as well as Amelie Mauresmo.

She has proven her on-court finesse with wonderful fluidity and selection of shots. She even took out Venus Williams, then the defending champion, in the third round of Wimbledon 2006, while also coming out victorious at the JP Morgan Chase Open against Serena Williams. Jankovic became the only player in 2006 to beat both of the Williams sisters.

Her singles career in 2007 often left frustrated and angry, especially as a result of unlikely and poor umpire calls. She did make it to the fourth round at the Australian Open that year, and went on to defeat Venus Williams at the Family Circle Cup before blasting Svetlana Kuznetsova, the world number two at the time, in order to gain victory at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome.

Jankovic continued her impressive performance, becoming the first player since to win 50 matches within one year, a record held by Chris Evert in 1974.  She has demonstrated her resilience further at the French Open in 2008 by coming close to beating the world number one seed, though eventually losing to Ana Ivanovic with a final score of 6–4, 3–6, 6–4.

It’s highly likely that Jankovic will beat out the fresh-faced Robson, due to her sheer strength on serve and immaculate shot selection ability. Yet Robson’s serve and volley finesse and her recent win at the Roland Garros Juniors may have infused her with vigor and confidence. Wimbledon has eluded Jankovic for quite some time now, so she will be at her best for the match on Monday afternoon, offering a tough hurdle for Robson.


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