Who’ll court the clay?
Dinara Safina needs only one more win to join her older brother as a Grand Slam champion, and she'll try for it on Saturday against Ana Ivanovic in the French Open final. Dispensing with the come-from-behind drama of her previous two matches, Safina advanced on Thursday by beating fellow Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 6-2.
Ivanovic then won a seesaw semifinal against fellow Serb Jelena Jankovic, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. Ivanovic swept the final three games for a victory that ensures she'll be ranked No. 1 for the first time next week, replacing Maria Sharapova.
Safina's berth in a major final is her first. Her brother Marat Safin is a former No. 1 player who won the 2000 U.S. Open and 2005 Australian Open.
"I'm doing it for him and for myself," she said. Seeded 13th, Safina was one point from defeat against Sharapova in the fourth round and No. 7-seeded Elena Dementieva in the quarterfinals before mounting comebacks. But against the error-prone Kuznetsova, Safina took a 4-1 lead and cruised the rest of the way. "I won in two sets — that's strange for me," Safina said. The match between the No. 2-seeded Ivanovic and No. 3 Jankovic was a roller coaster, with every set won by the player who fell behind at the start.
Ivanovic swept six consecutive games to lead 2-0 in the second set, then began to struggle with her serve while Jankovic became more aggressive. Jankovic won seven consecutive games and led 2-0 in the final set before Ivanovic mounted another comeback. In the final game she broke serve by whacking four winners, including a ferocious forehand return on match point. She squealed and covered her face in delight, then received a hug from Jankovic. "It was a lot of ups and downs for both of us," Ivanovic said. "I'm just so happy I managed to stay until the end."