Tennis: Japanese qualifier Kurumi Nara, who had never before reached the third round in any tour-level event, saw her U.S. Open run ended Friday with a 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) loss to Serbian ninth seed Jelena Jankovic. Nara, ranked 109th, became the first Japanese woman in the third round of the U.S.
Open since Ai Sugiyama in 2008 but failed to become the first in the last 16 since Shinobu Asagoe made the 2004 quarter-finals. The 21-year-old college student from Osaka will take home $93,000 from the year’s final Grand Slam tournament.
That’s more than the $61,255 she had won this year before reaching the Flushing Meadows hardcourts. Nara’s only prior Grand Slam appearances were a 2010 second-round Wimbledon effort and a first-match loss at the 2010 French Open.
Jankovic and Nara exchanged early service breaks in the match but the Serbian star broke her at love in the final game of the first set. Nara answered by opening the second set with a break, trading breaks with Jankovic in the fourth and fifth games, and broke her again in the seventh.
But serving for the set, Nara netted a backhand to surrender a break in the eighth game. Jankovic held and in the pivotal 10th game denied a set point for Nara with a backhand winner on the way to breaking Nara and they traded breaks in the final two games to reach the tie-breaker.
Two points from forcing a third set at 5-5, Nara netted a forehand and a backhand to fall after one hour and 53 minutes. Victories over two Romanians, Alexandra Cadantu and 19th seed Sorana Cirstea, were the first back-to-back main draw triumphs of Nara’s career.