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Ivanovic wins her first grand slam

sports Updated: Jun 08, 2008 00:05 IST
Simon Cambers
Simon Cambers
Reuters
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A beaming Ana Ivanovic said she had achieved a lifetime goal by winning her first grand slam title at the French Open on Saturday.

The 20-year-old, beaten in the final last year and runner-up at the Australian Open in January, defeated Russian Dinara Safina 6-4 6-3 to become the first grand slam singles winner representing Serbia.

"I feel so happy, I have no words to describe that," Ivanovic told reporters between smiles. "Winning a grand slam title is something I dreamed of since I was a little kid, so achieving that goal, it's very thrilling.

"You work so hard, off the court, on the court, and you put so much effort into it. I love the game and I enjoy playing, so this is the best reward I can get."

Twelve months ago, Ivanovic was overcome by nerves as she folded in the final at Roland Garros against Justine Henin.

In January, she again struggled to cope in the final of the Australian Open when she was beaten by Maria Sharapova.

On Saturday, though, Ivanovic held her nerve when Safina threatened to wrest the first set from her grasp after recovering from 4-1 down to level at 4-4.

After pinching the first set, the Serbian kept her cool to ease to victory.

TOUGH LOSS

She said the experience of losing in Paris and Melbourne had helped her to win this time.

"(Australia) was a very tough loss for me and I had a few sleepless nights after that, honestly," Ivanovic said.

"But it's something I learned from. So this time I really tried not to think about that at all and just focus on my game.

Ivanovic, who will be confirmed as the new world number one when the rankings are released on Monday, was presented with the trophy by Henin after the Belgian watched the match from the stands.

That, Ivanovic said, was the icing on the cake.

"Seeing her today in the crowd made me feel really, really good," Ivanovic said. "I thought 'maybe I can be like her, I can win a title'. So it was really thrilling when she also handed me the trophy.

"This title is very important for me, because that was my dream for a long time. Reaching number one before I played this match in the final was a great award. But when you're on the court you have to play your game, and rankings speak for themselves."

Ivanovic said she was now looking forward to Wimbledon, starting on June 23. When asked if she would be able to handle the pressure that comes with being world number one and a grand slam winner, she had a simple response.

"The future comes soon enough, so why worry about it," she said.

(Editing by John Mehaffey)