Ivanovic into French Open final
The Serbian teenager demolishes the error-plagued challenge of Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-1 to enter her first Grand Slam final.india Updated: Jun 08, 2007 19:37 IST
Serbian teenager Ana Ivanovic demolished the brittle and error-plagued challenge of Russian golden girl Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-1 on Thursday to reach the French Open final.
The 19-year-old, who will be playing in her first Grand Slam final, will face defending champion Justine Henin for the title on Saturday.
"I played a great match and didn't miss much," said Ivanovic.
"I was expecting a tough match but I took my opportunities. I knew I had to be aggressive because if you give her chances she will take them."
Second seed Sharapova, bidding to reach her first French Open final, suffered a nightmare afternoon on a muggy Court Philippe Chatrier as a catalogue of mistakes helped clear Ivanovic's path to the final.
The seventh-seeded Serbian, who had never previously got beyond the quarter-finals, came into Roland Garros buoyed by her title on the Berlin clay last month.
She had also seen off Sharapova's fellow Russian, and third seed, Svetlana Kuztensova in the quarter-finals.
"I didn't make many unforced errors and I served really well," added the Serbian girl whose career did not have the most promising of starts as it coincided with the NATO bombing of Belgrade.
"Maria likes to dominate but I knew she's not a great mover so I tried to play the ball deep and put her under pressure. She went for the big shots but I was there.
"Now I will look forward to the final, it's my first in a Grand Slam and I'm very excited about it."
Sharapova, who will now turn her attentions to the more familiar surroundings of Wimbledon's grass courts, admitted that she had been outplayed.
"I felt like I gave her the chances to open up the court and she was always the one getting to the ball first," said the Russian.
"I would have liked my serve to be more effective but giving her the first ball wasn't a great gameplan. There were a lot of sloppy errors and I just couldn't find any rhythm."
Ivanovic broke the first Sharapova service game with a scintillating forehand winner and was soon 5-1 ahead when the Russian served up her third double fault of the opener.
Sharapova rallied to break back to 2-5 with her opponent serving for the set but it was a brief respite from the onslaught as Ivanovic once again dismantled the Russian's serve in the eighth game to claim the first set courtesy of a fourth double fault.
The first set statistics made grim reading for the former world number one and reigning US Open champion with 16 unforced errors, twice as many as the tidy Serbian teenager.
Ivanovic served a love game to take the first game of the second set and then played the best game of the contest with her all-out attack exposing Sharapova's claycourt uncertainty as she broke to go 2-0.
Sharapova's game, which has never adapted comfortably to clay, continued to unravel and a fifth double fault gave Ivanovic a break point in the fourth game which was secured when her opponent dumped another forehand into the net.
There was to be no way back for Sharapova.
Ivanovic served another love game to lead 5-0 and despite Sharapova getting on the scoreboard in the next game, the 19-year-old served out the tie with an ace after just 65 minutes on court.
She is the first Serbian since former triple champion Monica Seles in 1992 to reach the Roland Garros final.
First Published: Jun 07, 2007 18:53 IST