By Martyn Herman
PARIS (Reuters) - Jelena Jankovic profited from the kind of mistake more befitting a crumbling park court than a grand slam quarter-final stage on Wednesday as she eventually wore down Yaroslava Shvedova at the French Open.
The Serbian fourth seed was struggling to put away unseeded Shvedova of Kazakhstan but chuckled with relief when her tall opponent lined up an easy smash, set herself, but swished at thin air instead of connecting with a ball that was begging to be walloped for a winner.
It was no laughing matter for the 22-year-old Shvedova as it allowed Jankovic to level the set at 4-4 before rolling through the following two games to win 7-5 6-4 and reach her third semi-final at Roland Garros.
"It was nerves and a little bit of wind," Shvedova, who switched nationality from Russia to Kazakhstan in 2008, told reporters.
"The ball blew and moved a move a little bit. I just missed it. It happens."
Jankovic, who strutted around a sunlit Court Suzanne Lenglen in her buttercup yellow dress, will have to play better in the last four against Australian Samantha Stosur who backed up her win over Justine Henin by knocking out top seed Serena Williams.
She dropped serve four times in the match and had to rely on her solid baseline play and superior claycourt movement to ensure that at least one of the women's top four seeds progressed to the semi-finals.
"I hope that I can have better luck and get through the semi-final, the 25-year-old Jankovic told reporters. "I will have a tough match but I'm looking forward to playing tomorrow.
"It will be a tough match. I have played (Stosur) this year but on a hard court. So this will be a different match. We're playing on clay. I'll just play my game and give my maximum."
Jankovic lost the opening two games against an opponent who had caused her problems in the past but she recovered well to take the opening set against a player contesting her first grand slam quarter-final.
The opening four games of the second set went against serve before Jankovic finally held at 2-2. She dropped serve again at 3-3, however, before Shvedova's shocking miss seemed to break her spirit.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Martyn Herman)