CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) - Serbian second seed Jelena Jankovic outlasted unseeded American Venus Williams 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 on Saturday to earn a meeting with fourth seeded Russian Dinara Safina in Sunday’s final of the Family Circle Cup.
The victory for Jankovic, ranked ninth in the world, came down to a line overrule by the chair umpire with Jankovic serving at 6-5 in the third-set tiebreaker.
A Jankovic backhand clipped the sideline tape but it took the chair umpire to check the clay-court mark and overrule the line judge’s out call on a Jankovic appeal to end the two-hour and 31-minute match.
“I was about to die at the end,” said Jankovic, whose three previous matches had lasted a total of only two hours and 18 minutes.
Safina had a much easier time for the second straight day as ninth seeded compatriot Vera Zvonareva retired with a wrist injury while trailing 6-3, 0-1. Safina also had received an easy passage on Friday when 10th seed Tatiana Golovin of France retired after one set with an ankle injury.
Williams, after powering her way to a one-set lead with her serve and big groundstrokes, lost her control and surrendered the last four games of the second set. She was also ahead 5-4 in the decisive tiebreak but committed two errors to give Jankovic match point.
Jankovic and Safina have faced each other only once before. Safina won in 2004 on carpet in Paris when Jankovic retired in the second set.
“It was unbelievable,” Jankovic said about the last point. “I just I hit that ball and then by her reaction I was confident that the ball was in because she was going to shake my hand and then she was in doubt. So I was really lucky on that one to win.”
Williams, the 2004 Family Circle champion, said, “It was tough because sometimes I’d play some good points, then I’d make two errors in a row, and it was tough because she wasn’t really giving me any errors.”