Heavy showers interrupt Angelique Kerber’s march to quarter-finals at Hong Kong Open
Officials work tirelessly to dry sodden Centre Court, but weather won on the day as two matches are postponed, while lucky Jelena Jankovic remains on track to defend her title
There was not a dry towel left in Victoria Park on Wednesday as heavy rain showers played havoc with the action at the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open where volunteers battled in vain to ensure a conclusion to the day’s play.
As the rain fell in the evening session, an army of officials worked tirelessly to dry the sodden Centre Court before the decision was reluctantly taken to abandon the day’s play with just one singles match completed.
Serbian Jelena Jankovic was lucky to complete her match against friend and fellow Serbian Aleksandra Krunic in a hard-fought 6-3, 6-4 win to reach the quarter-finals of the US$250,000 International series event, but world number one Angelique Kerber and American youngster Louisa Chirico were not as fortunate.
Jankovic, the reigning champion, stayed on course to defend her title after wrapping up the win against her doubles partner and former protégé in 86 minutes.
Jankovic said the 23-year-old Krunic had a big future in the game and on the evidence of some deft play and smart shot selection that forced the 31-year-old to dig deep on several occasions she could be right.
Watch: Jelena Jankovic in action against Aleksandra Krunic
“She’s a player who is very talented and I’ve known her a long time,” said Jankovic. “I used to be her mentor and now I play against her. It’s amazing to see her grow up and come to this stage.
“I don’t like to play against someone who is my friend. It’s never easy. I prefer to play someone else, but she played really well.”
After being broken twice in the opening set, Krunic fought in the second to ensure her more experienced opponent worked hard for her ticket into the last eight.
Both players struggled to hold serve early in the second set, but by the fifth game Jankovic began to control the tempo and moved into a commanding lead. Yet, when she managed to lose that game from a strong position, her mood darkened in tandem with the quickly growing rain clouds over Centre Court.
Watch: Newly crowned tennis world number one Kerber talks about her secrets of success in 2016
An unfortunate line judge and bungling ball boy felt the brunt of her frustration.
“I’m always annoyed at myself,” said the world number 37. “It’s part of me on the tennis court. I show my emotions and if I make a mistake, I get angry.”
Her mood brightened however as she took control to see out a win, which sets her up for a potential last-eight showdown against her great rival Venus Williams.
The Serbian holds a slender 7-6 advantage in their head-to-head and won her last meeting with the American at the semi-final stage of last year’s Hong Kong Open.
“I’ve had so many great matches against Venus. She’s a great champion. It’s gonna be a tough match – it always is. I always enjoy it.”
Later, the torrential rain interrupted world number one Kerber’s match against Chirico for almost two hours. The players finally got back on court after 9pm, with the German leading 6-2, 3-5.
Chirico went on to win the second set 6-3, but her momentum would prove to be short-lived as another deluge washed out any hopes of completing their match.
Organisers had already taken the decision to cancel the later match between second seed Williams and Alize Cornet of France despite concerted efforts to rescue the day’s play.