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Saturday 8 May – As It Happened

This content was published 13 years ago. It may refer to a past edition of the Internazionali d’Italia.

Dulko and Pennetta defeat Martinez Sanchez and Nuria Llagostera Vives to take the doubles title
9.37 pm: Phew, what a day. And what a two weeks. Two Spanish champions, how about that? I know they love their clay, and while Rafa’s win was easy to predict, who’d have thought that Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez would come through like that? Amazing. And she was a worthy champion, defeating Ana and Jelena on consecutive days.
There was also Ana’s return, and Ernest Gulbis’ rise in the men’s tournament. Ah, we’ve had a cracking fortnight, haven’t we? Thanks of course for sharing it with me, here and on Twitter and Facebook. Keep tweeting and facebooking me, and above all, as Rafa would say, “the important thing is” that you keep enjoying your tennis.
I’ll be back in two weeks exactly, blogging right at ya from Roland Garros. In between, my friend Charlotte James will be covering Madrid. Take care everyone… always a pleasure, never a chore.
9.09 pm: Poor old MJMS has been broken again. Flavia-Gisela lead 4-2 and are closing in on the title.
8.53 pm: 6-4 to the Italo-Argentinean team in the first, then breaks are exchanged to open the second (MJMS and the incredible Dulk are broken).
8.34 pm: Ha, she thought she was invincible here at the Foro, did ol’ MJMS. And she’s just been broken. In the crucial seventh game. 4-3 to Dulko and Pennetta.
8.12 pm: Nuria Llagostera Vives (hereafter NLV) holds after a deuce.
8.07 pm: And here we go with the women’s doubles final, with that lass MJMS in action again! She can’t get enough of the Foro Italico clay!
6.41 pm: To the strains of Vangelis, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez hoists the Internazionali BNL d’Italia trophy aloft!
6.36 pm: And now she’s out there talking Italian to the crowd. Is there no end to this lady’s talents?! JJ is now congratulating her opponent. “She killed me with all those drop shots!” She did indeed!
6.32 pm: JJ saves the first… but MJMS serves big at 40-30 and that’s the title! Serve and volley to finish it off and she falls on her back, overcome with emotion. It’s a Spanish double here in Rome – first Rafa now Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez!
6.31 pm: JJ pummels a second serve, 0-15. MJMS needs to get her first ‘uns in if she’s to take the title. She does second time up and then slices, reducing JJ to a heap at the base of the net. 15-all. Two big serves later and she had two… championship… points…
6.24 pm: It’s nup-and-tuck here and no mistake. Two great drops from MJMS, three gutsy rallies won by JJ. 40-30. Can she hold? Not yet. Deuce after a textbook drop. Poetry, it was. A great flat backhand then carves out a break point for the Spanish lefty, but JJ doesn’t back down and saves it bravely. Another BP – JJ’s serves aren’t clicking and then she looongs a backhand. MJMS breaks! Another chance to serve out for the win!
6.18 pm: J-unit battles to win an epic rally, but then MJMS just follows up with a big serve to make it 15-all. Another big rally goes the way of the JJ, then MJMS wiiides one as she tries to go longline. Two break points for JJ! Big serve, called out as she’s following up. Second serve… out! Double fault! 5-5!
6.14 pm: MJMS stands on the T and sends JJ left and right, like a cat playing with a mouse or a parent teasing a child. JJ gets her own back and holds to 15 though. MJMS to serve… for the win!

6.13 pm: 40-0 MJMS dominates. 40-30 MJMS gets nervous. Game as MJMS takes a deep breath and closes out. 5-3. Jayj serving to stay in the tournament.
6.04 pm: 0-30, topsy-turvy. JJ’s shoulder wobbles on service, MJMS pounces. 0-40… And there we go, 4-3 as MJMS breaks to love. Just two more holds. Or two more breaks.
6.04 pm: Aye aye, JJ volleys a beaut at the net then digs out a drop with a perfect lob onto the baseline to carve out two break points! And a double fault offers it to her on a plate! 3-3, crucialissimo seventh game to come.
6 pm: 3-2, comfortable hold from JJ but MJMS only needs three more games, three more holds.
5.54 pm: MJMS owns the net. She’s probably going to roll it up and take it with her once the tourney’s over. 30-0 in the blink of two drop volleys. Seconds later it’s 3-1. She’s three-quarters of the way there.
5.52 pm: JJ squanders a 40-15, longing two and asking the question after each one, even though the second in the particular wasn’t marginal by any stretch of the imagination. She holds in the end though, 1-2.
5.47 pm: Zero-30? Zero problem. MJMS serves, volleys and smashes the first, slices a beaut of a drop for the second, serve and lefties the third and then holds with a serve and backhand volley. 2-0.
5.42 pm: Both ladies at the net, JJ opts for the wrong side and MJMS can stick out a long left arm and flick the ball right past the green machine. Break point, and take point! One love, MJMS is a set and a break to the good.
5.37 pm: Great start from MJMS, JJ came right back but couldn’t close it out then MJMS held her nerve. Will this boost her confidence for the second set?
5.35 pm: Ooh, line judge rules second serve out, Eva calls it back in. JJ not happy, esp. as MJMS then second (third) serves and volleys to close out the set! How will JJ react to this?
5.34 pm: MJMS slices her way to two set points, but the J-unit big serves her way to saving one. MJMS to serve now though at 6-5…
5.32 pm: JJ sent right back after coming into the net and MJMS smashes the desperate return she plays to mini-break up on the crucial (tee hee) seventh point. Not that crucial, it turns out as JJ minis back. Does no-one want to win this? Nope, JJ unforceds one to make it 5-4 to the Spaniard.
5.29 pm: 3-3 at the change-over after MJMS wides an inside-outer. The sun is out good and proper but it’s still raining a little. Strange. Like this tie-break really – neither flesh nor fowl, no real rallies.
5.28 pm: Mini-break, mini-break back, then JJ holds. 2-1 on the MJMS service.
5.25 pm: OK laydeez, let’s have a tie-break.
5.21 pm: Set point no.2, but with a difference. This time it’s JJ. And she nets. Ack. Deuce. Then it’s BP MJMS – does no-one want to win this set? MJMS wides, but carves out another one on a JJ error. Nerves…
5.15 pm: Ad JJ! MJMS is suddenly making errors. And there you go – she nets, and it’s 6-5. JJ was rocking her back on her heels, like she did to Serena yesterday.
5.12 pm: 5-5. Has the J-Unit adapted and found her range? She’s firing the ball in at the feet of MJMS with regularity now.
5.04 pm: Another BP and again MJMS saves it, despite facing a barrage of volleys at the net. JJ will rue not getting the ball past her there. A big serve makes it set point… Ack! Then she misses a smash then nets the follow-up. Deuce. It gets worse – she comes to the net and loooong/wiiiides an easy one (she practically on top of the net). And it’s just starting drizzling as well. Break! JJ breaks back! 4-5! MJMS is the one to rrrrrrrrue missed opportunities in the end. How will this affect her confidence?
5.03 pm: BP for the J-unit after she wins three in a row, firing shots in at the feet of the onrushing Spaniard. MJMS is unnerved though, serving and volleying her way back to deuce.
4.59 pm: Jayj wides one to make it 0-30. She asks the question, more in hope than belief, and Eva sashays her pony-tail down there and confirms it, index finger raised up and out.
4.57 pm: The J-Unit leaps into a forehand and holds. 5-3, MJMS to serve for the set. In other news, you can tell we’re at an Italian tournament – the coffee machine has three dozen decaf capsules left and three ristrettos…
4.56 pm: MJMS leans back to inside-out a forehand down the line, and after a net cord on the next point, we end up at deuce. Jayj is serving to save the set here, don’t forget.
4.51 pm:
A mixture of serve-and-volley and serve-and-wait at the T and maybe half-volley sees MJMS hold to 30. 5-2. Whoosh.
4.46 pm: Jayj holds, but it was hard work. 4-2. And this will be a psychologically crucial seventh game.
4.42 pm: 40-0 JJ? No problem. MJMS deuces it up, the last of the three points seeing her drag one back backhand from behind her, almost, and fire it in at JJ’s feet. Hey, she’s on a roll – break point. Ah, here she drops again but JJ is alive to the danger, scurrying in and whupping it past her oppo. Deuce.
4.36 pm: 15-40, 40-15 – same difference. MJMS drops to perfection again. She comes to the net on game point but the J-unit thumps one onto her backhand that she can’t return. 40-30, serve and sliced drop. 4-1 MJMS. Forget Roland Garros, I’m backing Maria Jose to go all the way at Wimbledon…
4.32 pm: 15-40 seems to be the score of the day so far, only this time, MJMS drops to perfection next up. The J-unit slides in, does the splits but can’t dig the ball out and over the net. FIRST BREAK! 3-1 MJMS.
4.28 pm: The lefty reverts to serve and volley and takes the game. 2-1 MJMS.
4.27 pm: Two more BPs come along but this time the J-unit’s got them. MJMS big forehands the first into the dust. 30-40. Second serve, JJ punts her return wide. FortyDeuce.
4.23 pm: MJMS slightly telegraphs an overhand drop and JJ is alert to the danger. Ad JJ, then MJMS loooongs one on the backhand. 1-all each a-piece.
4.20 pm: MJMS carves out the first BP of the game by stepping in on a JJ second service and slicing the kind of drop that is so lovely, you want to take it home to meet your parents. JJ then big serves to save, but another BP soon follows.
4.15 pm: MJMS’s first serve isn’t working yet but her second certainly is. 40-0 to the Spaniard. JJ then manages to lengthen the rallies and battles back to 30. Ah, and then the lean (lime) green clay machine wiiides a backhand and MJMS is first on the board, leading 1-0.
4.10 pm: JJ is 21-5 here at the Foro Italico, MJMS 8-1. Cracking records both. Eva Asderaki is in the chair for this contest BTW. Top ump. for a top match.
4.07 pm: Here we go, Jelena Jankovic and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez are out on a centre court bathed in sunshine, warming up with the big’un about to start in about five minutes. MJMS will get us under way with those swinging lefty serves of hers. She has won 152 of 210 points on first service so far this week and leads the tourney with 21 aces.
3.52 pm: Nice and warm out there. Plenty in the way of blue sky and a hot sun when it gets through the (light and not at all menacing) cloud covering, but there’s also a nice cool breeze. Centre court is filling up nicely, plenty of those inflatable long noise-making balloon tubes for the fans to bash, and even some straw hats for those in the posh seats. Lots of people milling around the walkways as well – in short, an ideal atmosphere.
3.30 pm: OK, let’s have some final fast facts.
JJ: looking for sixth title on clay and 13th overall. Will be No.4 in the rankings on Monday (Venus up to No.3, Dinara down to No.5). She’s also the first non-Slam winner to beat both sisters in the same tournament.
MJMS: Has won two titles in her career, both on clay (Bogota and Bastad last year). She’ll be No.22 on Monday if she loses to day, top 20 if she wins (first Spaniard to crack the top 20 since Anabel Medina Garrigues after Wimbledon last year).
The last Spanish lady to win a Tier I title was Conchita Martinez not Sanchez at Berlin in 2000. She is also the most recent Spanish Rome winner, who won here 1993-4-5-6.
11.45 am: Good morning y’all! Drew Lilley here. And I have one question for you and one question alone – are you ready to rrrrrrrrrrrumble?! It’s the final, Jelena Jankovic versus Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez. Who do you think will win? I’m going for JJ in two relatively comfortable sets, but who knows – MJMS has stopped plenty of high-profile opponents throughout the week so far.
The weather is… hmm… OK. Ish. It was raining this morning but it’s warmed up a fair bit now and looks like it’s drying out. We’ve got until 11 pm anyway to get the final done – that’s when my train leaves! We’ve got an MJMS double bill as well as she’s in the doubles final with Nuria Llagostera Vives (they’re the No.2 seeds), taking on No.6-ers Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta.
The preview is on the homepage so check that out. And then feel free to tweet me on twitter.com/drewlilley and join the Facebook group ‘As it happens with Drew Lilley’ to let me know what you think will happen today and I’ll shamelessly copy and paste any good stuff and put it on here.
And here’s one already, from Stuart Sox via Facebook: “Jelena in 3! But I definitely did not expect Ivanovic to go down to MJMS, although she was playing very well. The final should be good! I’m thinking it’ll be Jankovic in a close set and an easy set.”
I’ll go for that, Stuart. And since I won yesterday’s journalists’ prediction competition for the second time in five days, I’m the man to listen to!

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