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Serbia basks in French Open success

Serbian Tennis Federation chief Slobodan Zivojinovic heaped praise on his compatriots for what he called a stunning success at the French Open.

sports Updated: Jun 07, 2007 15:21 IST

Serbian Tennis Federation chief and former grand slam semi-finalist Slobodan Zivojinovic heaped praise on his compatriots for what he called a stunning success at the French Open.

"It is hard to find the rights words to describe what Serbia has achieved at Roland Garros, it is quite simply fantastic and stunning," Zivojinovic told Reuters after seeing Novak Djokovic reach the men's singles semi-finals on Wednesday.

Sixth-seeded Djokovic brushed aside Russian Igor Andreev in straight sets to reach his first grand slam semi-final and emulate Zivojinovic's success at Wimbledon in 1986 and at the Australian Open in 1985.

"I am sure he will go on to win a grand slam as he is only 20 and such a masterful player already with his whole career in front of him," Zivojinovic said.

Djokovic's win over Andreev put the icing on the cake for Serbia after Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic had reached the last four in the women's singles to set up the possibility of an all-Serbian final.

Ivanovic is up against world number two Maria Sharapova of Russia while Jankovic will be looking for her first win against Belgium's Justine Henan when she takes on the defending champion in the other semi-final on Thursday.

"Of course, I also can't stress enough how well the girls too have done in Paris, they are in the focus of everyone's attention and so is Serbia," Zivojinovic said.

"On top of all that, Nenad Zimonjic has reached the semi-finals in the men's and mixed doubles so it's fair to say we are fast becoming a force to be reckoned with."

Media in Belgrade splashed gigantic photos of Ivanovic, Jankovic and Djokovic, with daily Sportski Zurnal noting that "the world is embracing Serbia" in a front-page headline.

"You are the pride of Serbia," said mass-circulation daily Press, adding the three "have done better than anyone could have expected or asked for".

"What seemed like a distant dream a year ago is becoming reality -- Serbia is taking over the world's tennis scene," Press said in its daily Roland Garros report.