In a titanic battle which ebbed and flowed for over two hours, Ana Ivanovic outlasted Jelena Jankovic to ensure Serbian bragging rights and become next Monday’s world No1. More importantly, the 6-4 3-6 6-4 win booked her a place in the women’s final to face No13 seed Dinara Safina.
Jankovic had lost seven of the previous eight meetings between the two young Serbs, including the only previous meeting on clay and a semi-final at Indian Wells earlier this year.
She made a promising start with an early break of serve for a 2-0 lead, but Ivanovic soon hit back and broke again in the ninth game to settle the set.
Jankovic came back strongly to win the second set and force a decider and she appeared to be in the ascendancy when she moved a service break ahead at 3-2 in the final set.
Again though, in a mirror of the first set, there was another spell of three breaks on the trot that Ivanovic got the better of, as things started to click for her at just the right time once again.
She held serve at 4-4 to move to within a game of victory, and then saved the best for last, as she produced four cracking winners to break to 30 in the final game.
“She just started playing really good tennis and I maybe started to be too static and not stepping up like I should,” said Ivanovic, explaining how Jankovic turned the tide and forced a decider. “I can’t let Dinara do this in the final. I’m glad I’ve got a day off now to prepare for Saturday” she concluded.
A day off during which she will be able to reflect on her new status as the pinnacle of the women’s game. For Jankovic however, despite ups and downs, Justine Henin’s retirement and the early eliminations of the Williams sister and Maria Sharapova, she remains stuck in third spot. Her first Grand Slam final is a long time coming…
Ivanovic will now clash with Safina who had trounced world number one Maria Sharapova on her way to the finals.
Safina came close to bowing out of the tournament in her previous two matches but she was in stunning form in the semi-final against her fellow Russian, coming through 6-3 6-2 in an hour and 27 minutes.
"I am really happy because I played well today. I feel it's amazing. I was taking it just day by day and the less you expect, the more you get."
Safina remained a picture of calm determination throughout, with the No 4 seed losing her cool on several occasions, once sending a ball into the crowd in frustration.
"It was a horrible match," said Kuznetsova, who won her last two matches on clay against Safina, including a 7-6 6-0 quarter-final win at Roland Garros two years ago.
"I could not serve, I could not play my forehand, it was one of my worst matches against her. She played every ball, she was more consistent."
(source Telegraph, Sky Sports, Roland Garros,
photo/PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images via Yahoo Sports)