Andrew's TV-reports for Day 12
ROLAND GARROS (Paris, France; red clay; Grand Slam)
2. Semi-final results
3. Semi-final TV-report: Ivanović v Janković
4. Girls' Singles
5. Order of play for Friday
Ana Ivanović (and Jelena Janković):
Marta Domachowska (Thursday 29th May):
Gisela Dulko (Thursday 29th May):
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2. Semi-final results (Thursday 5th June 2008)
+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [2,DF] d. JELENA JANKOVIĆ , 6-4 3-6 6-4
The lesser of two evils:
+ DINARA SAFINA  d. SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA , 6-3 6-2
My TV-report: Kuznetsova came out really flat, and got hammered.
These results mean that Ana will be #1 and Maria Sharapova #2 in next week's rankings, no matter who wins the final. They also mean that we'll have a new Grand Slam champion in Women's Singles for the first time since the Australian Open 2006.
3. Semi-final TV-report: Ivanović v Janković
+ ANA IVANOVIĆ [2,DF] d. JELENA JANKOVIĆ , 6-4 3-6 6-4
An up-and-down match for Ana, who is certainly playing well enough to deserve the title, but is still prone to bouts of choking, which is very worrying when she has to play the ultimate fightback-queen Dinara Safina in the final.
Janković played much better than I expected, having watched three of her previous matches here. She started the match playing aggressively, and took a *4-2 lead as Ana took time to settle into the match.
Then Ana found her form, looking every bit a Grand Slam champion in the making as she won six games in a row to lead 6-4 2-0* against a passive Janković. Ana seemed extremely confident and excited as she took a 3-1* lead - perhaps overconfident.
But the game at 3-1* was a major turning-point, as errors began to creep back into Ana's game, and Janković - with the help of some tiger-balm and taking the bandage off her arm - became aggressive again. Ana wasted a break-point at 3-1*, and three game-points (including 40/15) at *3-2 as Janković launched a fightback that saw her win seven games in a row to lead *2-0 in the third.
When Ana wasted a break-point as she allowed Janković to hold for 2-0*, I thought she had blown it. But she played a brilliant service-game to stop Janković's run of seven, and although she allowed Janković to hold for 3-1*, she broke back for *3-3.
Ana put herself right back into trouble as she double-faulted to go 3-4* down in the third, but she showed tremendous guts and determination to win the last three games of the match by going for her shots, despite Janković's luck and gamesmanship.
The match was second on Court Chatrier. Svetlana Kuznetsova lost the first semi-final, so whoever wins this semi-final will be #1 on Monday, and Maria Sharapova will be #2.
INTERVIEWER: Good afternoon, Jelena. It's always nice talking to you. Are you are in better physical shape now that you've been back home to cure yourself a little? Today, everything's ??forgotten and no harm done???
JELENA JANKOVIĆ: Yeah... ready for this match, and very excited... <inaudible>
INTERVIEWER: I wish you all the best. Merci beaucoup, Jelena. Alors, que je pense que Ana Ivanović va bien tout... Good afternoon, Ana. So this is gonna be a big thrill. You knew that thrill already last year, but I know that this year, you hope even more for this tournament.
ANA IVANOVIĆ: Yeah, definitely. I have fun every match I play here, and the crowd has been amazing, and, you know, I hope today, we'll have a great time, and they will support us.
INTERVIEWER: With a big smile, as always. Both of you have the nicest smile of the circuit.
ANA IVANOVIĆ: Thanks a lot, thank you. <embarrassed laugh>
3.2 My match-report
The match started at 15:57 CEST.
IVANOVIĆ ___*@ @*@* 6
JANKOVIĆ *@*__@____ 4
Janković serving 0-0: Ana on the fourth stroke hit a backhand long. 15/0. A longish rally ended with Ana hitting a backhand lob long. 30/0. Janković hit a backhand winner down the line: on the baseline. 40/0. Janković tried to spread Ana, but Ana hit a huge crosscourt forehand, forcing her into error. 40/15. Ana crosscourt forehand return-winner. 40/30. Ana netted a backhand.
Janković has come out playing aggressively against Ana, in contrast to her previous matches here.
Sam Smith: "If she stands back and counterpunches against Ivanović, she might have a short afternoon."
Ana serving 0-1: Ana backhand just wide. 0/15. A meaty rally ended with Ana hitting a hard backhand into the net. 0/30. Janković stopped playing because she thought Ana's shot on the baseline was long; Ana hit a backhand winner, but the umpire checked the mark that Janković stopped on and called it out. 0/40. Janković slugged a wild off-backhand wide of the tramlines. 15/40. Ana backhand just long.
They're both going for broke, but Ana hasn't found her range yet. She's the one with the pressure of expectation.
Janković serving 2-0: Janković netted a forehand. 0/15. Janković forehand long. 0/30. Ana hit a huge crosscourt forehand return into the corner, but hit a crosscourt backhand wide. 15/30. Janković forehand long. Ana pumped her fist and said "c'mon". 15/40. Serve; short return; Janković hit an error-forcing forehand. 30/40. Service-winner. 40/40. Ana saw the gap and hit a crosscourt backhand winner just inside the sideline. Ad Ana (BP #3). Ana netted a forehand. Deuce #2. And another. Ad Janković. She came to the net and hit an error-forcing forehand volley.
A close attempt to break back, but Ana's great form coming into this match and Janković's arm-injury seem to be counting for nothing so far.
Ana serving 0-3: Janković forehand long. 15/0. Janković netted a forehand. 30/0. Ana hit a deep, error-forcing forehand. 40/0. Double fault (second serve into the net). 40/15. A terrific rally saw the initiative shift from Ana to Janković back to Ana, who finished it with a crosscourt backhand pass-winner.
Janković serving 3-1: Ana pinned Janković back with a deep crosscourt backhand, and hit a backhand dropshot-winner to the opposite corner of Janković's half of the court. 0/15. Ana hit a pinpoint forehand winner down the line, right in the corner, and said "ajde". 0/30. Ana hit a deep, error-forcing crosscourt backhand just inside the baseline. 0/40. Ana forced a short ball and hit a crosscourt backhand winner onto the sideline - but the umpire checked the mark and called it wide, much to Ana's dismay. 15/40. Ana forehand wide. 30/40. Ana forced a short ball and hit a forehand winner down the line.
That's more like it from Ana: she looks like Grand Slam champion-material at the moment! And she did well to regroup after that late call - she had to win the game twice, in her mind.
Sam Smith said there was an underlying tension between the two Serbs, and Janković would have loved picking out that mark and pulling Ana back from the chair.
Ana serving 2-3: Janković's forehand clipped the netcord and fell back on her side. 15/0. Janković forced a floater but snatched at a forehand drive-volley, hitting it long. 30/0. Janković's deep return forced Ana to hit a crosscourt backhand just wide. 30/15. A long baseline-rally ended with Janković hitting an error-forcing forehand down the line: just inside the sideline. 30/30. Ana netted a backhand. 30/40. A long rally ended with Ana at the net and Janković hitting a crosscourt backhand pass-winner.
Janković serving 4-2: Serve + crosscourt backhand drive-volley winner. 15/0. Ana drew Janković to the net with a short sliced backhand, and hit a lightning crosscourt forehand pass-winner. 15/15. Ana forehand return-winner down the line. 15/30. Janković forehand just wide. 15/40. Janković backhand just long.
Sam Smith said Ana and Janković "get on, but they wouldn't go to dinner together. They don't really know each other - they grew up in different parts of Belgrade, and Ana went to Switzerland at 13/14, while Janković went to the Bollettieri academy at 12."
Ana serving 3-4: Ana took the initiative with a deep forehand just inside the baseline to force a floater from Janković, and hit a forehand smash-winner. 15/0. Service-winner. Janković broke a string and had to change her racket. 30/0. Janković netted a forehand. 40/0. Service-winner.
Sam Smith: "Devastating when she puts it together, Ivanović."
Janković serving 4-4: Second serve: Ana forehand return-winner down the line. 15/15. Ana backhand return long. Double fault (second serve long). 15/30. Janković sprayed a forehand wide - induced by depth. 15/40. Ana came to the net behind a deep forehand down the line, just inside the baseline, forcing Janković to net a backhand.
Janković's second serve doesn't have enough speed or spin, so attacking it is a key part of Ana's game-plan.
Janković isn't as aggressive as she was at the start of the match. But Sam Smith says it isn't easy for Ana to be the one generating the pace all the time.
Ana serving 5-4: Ace down the middle. 15/0. Janković forehand long. Barry Davies: "What an opportunity missed." 30/0. Ana, driven wide, netted a forehand. 30/15. Serve + off-forehand winner. 40/15 (SP #1). Janković backhand long. Ana won the first set 6-4 at 16:39 (42m).
Excellent recovery by Ana in that set. I think we're going to be seeing her in Grand Slam finals on a regular basis for quite a few years to come, continuing with the one on Saturday.
I don't think Maria Sharapova will allow her to be #1 for long, though - assuming she wins this match - I think Maria will take back #1 by winning Wimbledon, stay there for four years, and then, sadly, I think she'll do a Henin and retire at 25.
Barry Davies: "[Janković] has never made it to a Grand Slam final. She's going to have to be more aggressive if she's going to end that run here."
IVANOVIĆ @* *_____ 3
JANKOVIĆ __* *@*@* 6
Janković serving 0-0: Ana on the fourth stroke netted a backhand. 15/0. Janković forehand long. 15/15. Ana off-forehand winner onto the sideline. 15/30. A long rally ended with Janković's backhand clipping the netcord and falling back on her side - good combination of offence & defence from Ana. 15/40. Ana sprayed a backhand very long. 30/40. Ana played a fantastic rally, coming forward behind a deep, penetrating forehand down the line, forcing Janković into error. Ana doubled over, pumping her fist.
Ana serving 1-0: Ana backhand just long. 0/15. Ana netted a forehand. 0/30. Janković netted a backhand, and groaned in frustration. 15/30. Ana, pinned to her backhand-corner, netted a backhand. 15/40. Janković backhand long - forced by a deep forehand onto the baseline from Ana. 30/40. Janković resorted to moonballing, but it was short and weak, and Ana crunched a crosscourt forehand winner. She smiled and pumped her fist. 40/40. Serve out wide + crosscourt backhand winner + "ajde!" Ad Ana. Janković backhand wide.
Six games in a row to Ana from 2-4 down!
Janković serving 0-2: Janković netted a backhand, and doubled over, muttering in Serbian. 0/15. Ana forehand long. 15/15. Janković came to the net, hit a dropshot, but Ana ran it down and hit an error-forcing forehand. 15/30. Ana netted a backhand return. 30/30. Ana netted a forehand return. 40/30. Janković spread Ana with a crosscourt forehand, and hit an off-forehand winner into the corner.
Barry Davies: "There's no doubt they have taken Ana Ivanović to their hearts - especially those of the male generation."
Janković asked for tiger-balm during the changeover.
Ana serving 2-1: Ace #2: down the middle. 15/0. Ana hit a down-the-line forehand winner onto the sideline, but Janković didn't even try to run for it. 30/0. Ana forehand long. 30/15. Ana went for a forehand winner down Janković's forehand-sideline, but it was just wide. 30/30. Ace #3: down the middle. 40/30. Virtual ace down the middle. Ana pumped her fist and shouted "ajde", and seems to be really enjoying this, just as I am.
Janković serving 1-3: Virtual ace down the middle. 15/0. Ana lofted a forehand just long. 30/0. Double fault (second serve into the net). 30/15. Ana forehand down the line + off-forehand winner. 30/30. Ana opened up the court, but hit an off-backhand just wide. 40/30. Janković poked a defensive forehand long. 40/40. Janković hit a crosscourt backhand winner onto the baseline... but the umpire checked the mark and called it long. Ad Ana (BP). She lofted a forehand long. Deuce #2. Ana's backhand clipped the netcord and fell wide. Ad Janković. She advanced up the court, a deep forehand down the line forcing Ana into error.
If Ana goes on to lose this match, it will be because of that last game. She had a break-point for a virtually unassailable *4-1 lead, but errors crept in and Janković became more aggressive - like they were playing at the start of the match. Perhaps Ana was guilty of overconfidence in that game, because she's been absolutely thrashing Janković, and making /me/ very excited if not herself!
Ana serving 3-2: Ace. 15/0. Serve + off-forehand winner. 30/0. Serve out wide + off-forehand winner. 40/0. Janković took the initiative and hit a crosscourt forehand winner - only her second forehand winner of the match. 40/15. A great rally ended with Janković at the net, running Ana around at the baseline and forcing her to earth a backhand lob - great retrieval for one so tall, though! 40/30. Ana dumped a backhand halfway up the net. 40/40. Ana forced a short, weak lob from Janković, and hit an off-forehand winner. Sam Smith: "Her finishing has been excellent." Ad Ana. Janković came to the net and knocked off an easy forehand volley-winner. Deuce #2. Double fault (second serve just long). Ad Janković (BP). Janković forced Ana to hit a defensive sliced backhand (with a cute little grunt), and hit a crosscourt backhand winner back behind her.
Another key game in turning this match around - Ana had 40/15. Her bubble hasn't totally burst, but the roles are quickly being reversed as Janković becomes more aggressive.
Janković serving 3-3: Ana came to the net, but Janković came up with a backhand pass-winner down the line. 15/0. Double fault (the umpire called the second serve just long, and checked the mark). 15/15. Janković came to the net, her overhead forcing Ana into error. 30/15. Forehand return just long. 40/15. Service-winner down the middle.
And now this match has an entirely different complexion than it did three games ago. Janković is swinging away, and so is the momentum (from Ana).
Ana serving 3-4: Janković backhand return long. But she got the umpire to check the mark on the service-line from Ana's second serve, and got a double fault called. 0/15. Ana opened up the court with a crosscourt forehand, and hit an off-forehand would-be winner just wide. 0/30. A fantastic rally ended with Ana calmly hitting a forehand winner down the line - a really big point, too. 15/30. Ana backhand just long. 15/40. Ana came to the net and hit a forehand smash-winner on the fifth stroke. 30/40. Serve forced a short return, but Ana netted a backhand.
Poor Ana! It can be very traumatic when you've been winning so easily, and then suddenly it turns nasty.
Sam Smith: "The unforced errors just killing Ivanović now."
Janković serving 5-3: Ana hit an error-forcing off-forehand into the corner. 0/15. Ana blasted a backhand wide. 15/15. Janković forehand very long. Ana pumped her fist. 15/30. Ana backhand long. 30/30. Ana mishit a backhand into the net. 40/30 (SP #1). Janković on the third stroke blasted a down-the-line backhand wide, and Ana shouted "ajde". 40/40. Serve + off-forehand forced Ana into error. Ad Ana (BP). Double fault #4 (second serve long). Deuce #2. Janković down-the-line backhand just wide. Sam Smith: "She doesn't normally miss those." Ad Ana (BP #2). Janković off-backhand winner down the line. Deuce #5. Ana slapped a forehand return into the net. Ad Janković (SP #2). Ana came to the net, forcing Janković to hit a forehand pass wide. Sam Smith: "There's nothing for free out here." Deuce #6. Ana, driven wide, slapped another forehand into the net. Ad Janković (SP #3). Ana backhand return long. Janković won the second set 6-3 at 17:29 (second set 50m, match so far 1h32m).
Janković looked like choking herself in that game, but now she has the momentum going into the third set with five games in a row.
Sam Smith: "It was a small but visible shift, wasn't it? Just a couple of unforced errors at the wrong time. She just kind of lost her rhythm and her timing."
Barry Davies: "It's anyone's match now: either Ivanović or Janković's."
Sam Smith: "That's the fence we sit on after being Safina'd!"
IVANOVIĆ __* *@ @*@ 6
JANKOVIĆ @* *__@___ 4
Ana serving 0-0: Double fault (second serve into the net). 0/15. Ana opened up the court, but sprayed a forehand just wide. 0/30. Ana mishit a backhand long. 0/40. Ana ran down a dropshot and hit a backhand winner down the line. 15/40. Janković's forehand clipped the netcord and dropped dead for a winner.
The crowd have gone quiet.
Janković serving 1-0: A nailbiting rally ended with Ana hitting a backhand wide. 15/0. Ana hit a huge, early forehand virtual winner down Janković's forehand-sideline. 15/15. Ana opened up the court and hit a sweet off-forehand winner just inside the sideline. 15/30. Service-winner. 30/30. Janković's forehand clipped the netcord and fell back on her side. Sam Smith: "Ivanović has a lot of confidence to draw on." 30/40. Ana netted an agonising backhand, and squealed. 40/40. Ana netted a backhand. Ad Janković. Ana opened up the court but hit a forehand just long.
Just when it looked like Ana would break back, she choked again, and my weekend is looking much less busy now. :-(
Janković has won seven games in a row.
Ana serving 0-2: Janković forehand long. 15/0. Ana hit a thunderbolt of a short-angled crosscourt backhand winner onto the sideline. Sam Smith: "To hit her way out of trouble is her instinctive reaction." 30/0. Janković forced a floater and dispatched it with a crosscourt forehand drive-volley winner. 30/15. Ana hit a vicious off-forehand winner onto the sideline, and pumped her fist. 40/15. Serve out wide + crosscourt backhand winner.
A brilliant game by Ana - clean winners all over the court - but she's still a break down.
Janković serving 2-1: Ana netted a cheap backhand and closed her eyes. 15/0. Ana blasted a backhand long. 30/0. Janković slapped a forehand into the net. 30/15. Ana backhand long. 40/15. Ana came to the net behind a backhand down the line, her backhand punch-volley looked aesthetically pretty, but Janković hit a crosscourt forehand pass-winner.
Sam Smith: "There's always been a feeling about Ivanović that she wants to win too much. There aren't too many decisions for her in this match - she just has to find the form she had before. For me, she's looking for shortcuts out here."
Ana serving 1-3: She opened up the court and hit an off-forehand winner into the corner. 15/0. Janković completely wrong-footed Ana with a forehand virtual winner back down the line. 15/15. Serve out wide + off-forehand winner just inside the sideline. 30/15. Janković took the initiative, came to the net and forced Ana to hit a defensive one-handed backhand long. 30/30. Big serve + off-forehand winner. 40/30. A crowd-gasping rally ended with Ana at the net, hitting a backhand drive-volley winner down the line.
Janković serving 3-2: Janković forehand long. 0/15. Ana came to the net and hit an error-forcing forehand volley - "really cut across the ball there" [Sam Smith]. 0/30. Janković came to the net, but Ana hit a beautiful forehand pass-winner down the line - back behind Janković. 0/40. Janković forehand long - the umpire checked the mark and confirmed the call, much to Janković's dismay.
Yay: Ana breaks back! Perhaps I won't now be stuck with a boring Safina v Janković final. Ana deserves to reach the final and become #1 so much more. She's so much more talented, and prettier, than Janković.
Ana serving 3-3: Ana came to the net, but her approach was too weak, and Janković hit a forehand pass-winner down the line. 0/15. Serve + backhand winner down the line: just inside the baseline. 15/15. Ana took the initiative, forced a short ball, but netted an agonising forehand. 15/30. Ana came to the net behind a big first serve down the middle, but hit a forehand just long 15/40. Ana forehand down the line + brilliant crosscourt forehand winner. Sam Smith: "At times like these, you have to trust your best shot." 30/40. Double fault #5 (second serve into the net).
Janković serving 4-3: Ana forced Janković to net a forehand. 0/15. Ana opened up the court and hit a pinpoint forehand winner down the line: on the sideline. "Ajde". 0/30. Janković came to the net, but looked stranded as Ivanović hit a piercing backhand pass-winner down the line. 0/40. Janković played aggressively, came forward, and forced Ana to hit a backhand lob long. 15/40. Forehand return long. 30/40. Ana hit an off-forehand just wide, it seemed to me, but apparently it was a winner!
Ana serving 4-4: Ace. 15/0. Janković forehand lob long. 30/0. Service-winner out wide. Janković complained to the umpire about the lack of a call. Then she stalled Ana as she was about to serve by laying her racket on the court and standing on it. 40/0. Ana forehand wide. 40/15. Janković's forehand clipped the netcord and dropped dead on Ana's side for a winner. 40/30. Serve out wide + crosscourt forehand drive-volley winner.
Not even that combination of gamesmanship and luck could save Janković there, and now Ana is just four points from victory.
Sam Smith: "Goodness knows what she'll be like in a couple of years. There's just an ocean of talent."
Janković serving 4-5: Ana cracked an amazing crosscourt forehand return-winner just inside the sideline, and shouted "ajde". 0/15. Janković took the initiative and came to the net, and let Ana's backhand lob float long. 15/15. Service-winner out wide. 30/15. Janković paid the price for a short, weak crosscourt forehand: Ana hit a forehand down the line + backhand dropshot-winner. 30/30. With Ana's grunt rising in pitch with every stroke, she hit an off-forehand winner. 40/30 (MP #1). Ana sealed victory with a crosscourt forehand winner!! Ana won 6-4 3-6 6-4 at 18:13 (third set 44m, match 2h16m), and celebrated with her by-now-familiar squeal.
Barry Davies: "She took her courage in her hands, went for it, and won it."
I am delighted with this victory. I thought Ana had blown it by twice going a break down in that third set, but it's so right that she did it.
But will I induct Ana into my Eternal Fanship? The answer is a definite no, because it would entail a /vast/ amount of work to catch up on her career so far, and to keep up with her at that level of commitment if she keeps reaching Grand Slam finals, and I don't have the passion for that work, even though I did feel a great passion for her to win this match. But she's now my favourite player outside my Eternal Fanship - ahead of Tatiana Golovin and Maria Kirilenko, who had pretty much occupied that 'gatekeper' position since 2004. Ana is now my 12th-favourite tennis-player of all time, because I prefer her to everyone else I haven't inducted into my Eternal Fanship.
3.3 Ana's on-court interview
NELSON MONTFORT: This is the kind of battle that makes everybody enjoy tennis, so?
ANA IVANOVIĆ: Yeah, it was tough match. Er, it was lots of up and downs, I think, from both of us, so, score-wise, but, you know, I was just so happy to manage to stay strong at the end and win the match - it was very tough one.
NELSON MONTFORT: You were up, if we remember, one set and 3-1 - and then what happened?
ANA IVANOVIĆ: She just start playing really good tennis, and er, maybe I started to be too passive and not step in as much as I did before, but, you know, she's a very good player, so if you give her a chance, of course she's gonna use them.
NELSON MONTFORT: That means that you're not gonna give any chances in the final to Dinara, because you're in this tournament to win it, of course.
ANA IVANOVIĆ: Of course. I'm sure she is too. And she has a great run, so it's gonna be a tough match, but I'm very excited about it, and, you know, I just want now to have time to recover and relax. I have a day off, which is great, and er, hopefully perform well again.
NELSON MONTFORT: Merci.
3.4 Ana's press-conference
Q. First of all, how does it feel to be the new world No.1? And secondly, are we now in for a period of dominance with you as No.1? Are you ready to dominate the sport?
ANA IVANOVIĆ: First of all, I'm very, very thrilled. I didn't know going on to court today. Afterwards, in the locker-room, the woman told me. I was obviously very excited.
But still, on the other hand, the tournament hasn't ended, and the rankings are coming after the tournament. So, yeah, that's the first thing.
I just want - I have another tough match against Dinara, so that's all I want to focus on for today, or I mean for Saturday.
Q. How did you feel at a break down midway through the third? And what did you do to come up with all those winners and win it?
ANA IVANOVIĆ: Yeah, I think all the match was lots of ups and downs, lots of breaks. I mean, third set, I just had to put everything on the line being down 4-3 with the break. You know, I had to go for my shots, because it was very long, the match, and a lot of long rallies.
So, you know, I had feeling I had to step up a little bit more and, yeah, take a risk. I came up with some good shots, and obviously I felt, yeah, very, very good about it, and happy.
That last game was huge, and I stepped up and played some good tennis.
Q. It seems like you were fighting against yourself the end of the second set, beginning of the third set. Really couldn't find what you wanted to do.
ANA IVANOVIĆ: Yeah, exactly. It was a little bit anxious built up, because, you know, I had my chances in the second set and didn't use them. She started playing really well, and I was too passive at times.
I tried to step up a little bit more and then make some unforced errors, so I really had to work hard on, you know, to go back to basics and what I have to do. Yeah, just don't think about opportunities I had. I found it hard at the time, but, you know, towards the end of the set I managed to calm down and step up, and important points, you know, take my chance and play good.
Q. I was wondering, do you know if Sven is allowed to cheer for you in the final? Because he works for adidas, obviously, and Dinara also wears adidas-clothes.
ANA IVANOVIĆ: Yeah, well, unfortunately he can't be in the box, so he's going to sit somewhere and watch it. Yeah, he can't really cheer for any of us, so it's going to be - going to be a little bit different and strange for me again, like last year in final.
But, you know, I have a great, great team with me here, and my fitness-coach is there, my sparring-partner, so I'm sure I'm still going to have still a good support here.
Q. You show a lot of emotion whether you win or lose the point. How much do you think that can help your opponent try to get back into the match?
ANA IVANOVIĆ: Yeah, today the match was really emotional. I tried to get into it, by, you know, saying few commands in the beginning, especially - I was 3/Love down and I didn't play so good, so I tried to bring myself back into the game.
So, yeah, I was it was a way to relieve kind of pressure, emotions I was feeling, and it worked well for me today. So, yeah, I didn't think about it. It just came natural.
Q. You have 2 to 1 win against Dinara. Does this give you more confidence in your next final-match?
ANA IVANOVIĆ: Obviously, yes. Yeah, it's going to be a tough match. She's done a great run, and she played a lot of matches. Two matches she came from match-points down to win. She's showing some great strengths, so it's going to be another tough match.
But I still want to enjoy my victory today. I have a day to prepare tomorrow, so we're going to see.
Q. After what happened last year in the final, will you do anything different this year to make sure you don't have nerves?
ANA IVANOVIĆ: Yeah, definitely. The other day someone asked me, "Are you going to forget the final and play different one?" But I don't want to forget it, because it was great learning-experience. I learned a lot from, you know, Justine and the emotions I was feeling going on the court.
So I really hope I can, you know, work hard on it and play different this year. Obviously I feel like a different player coming into this French Open. A lot of experience I gain from that final and the final in Australia, so I really hope I can, you know, step up this time and make one more step.
Q. You traded a lot of breaks with Jelena. Do you have an explanation why it was so difficult for you to hold serve?
ANA IVANOVIĆ: Yeah, it just happened. I think we - I think personally I struggled with my first-serve percentage. It was very low, and that's something that I really hoped it would be different today, because it was important - yeah, important for a game, for my game today.
At the other hand, you know, her serve I stride [tried?] to step up a little bit more and, yeah, put her under pressure straightaway, so it worked well. But at times, I think my percentage of the first serves was very low.
Q. You lost seven games in a row precisely because of not holding serve. How did you feel in that moment, and how did you make it to come back in such a circumstance?
ANA IVANOVIĆ: Yeah, you know, I didn't think about that, because even that seven games I lost, it was very close. Like, lot of games with deuce and ad, and it could go either way. You don't have feeling, you know, you're just losing game after game.
Then you're like, "Okay, hold on. Maybe take a little bit more time and try to put more first serves in, you know, even if it's not as the first serve, just like a second, and to place it and to start point."
So I tried to work hard for each point. And, yeah, when I managed to, I think hold my serve and it came back to 2-1, it was important game.
Q. Seems like every match you play against her, it's very tough, and at the end, you take risks, you believe in yourself, and she doesn't. Match-point, good example. She hits the soft serve and seems afraid, and then you smack the forehand down the line. Do you find that?
ANA IVANOVIĆ: Yeah, today I felt, especially in the second set when I had some break-point chances, I started to be too defensive and not stepping up and, yeah, being dominant. That's something when I face match-point, I say, "Look, you just have to step up, because that's the way to play against her."
So, yeah, obviously I had a great tournament and great preparation, so that gives me confidence in these key moments to believe and to step up. She's a player that if you give her chances, she can use them. She loves to defend and to run, so you just have to take these kind of risks and believe. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't.
Q. Just about the No.1: I'm guessing it will be a lot sweeter on Monday when the rankings come out if you have the Roland Garros title and was No.1?
ANA IVANOVIĆ: Yeah, definitely. Coming into this tournament, you know, I didn't expect that. I just came, you know, to play each match. Obviously, every tournament you play, you want to win, so that still hasn't changed. That's still my goal. I have to work hard for it, because Dinara, like I said, she's in great form, great shape, and she's a big fighter, like we could see.
So I think it's going to be a really good match, and I just want to go out there and enjoy it, yeah.
Q. Perhaps somebody asked you this before, but how they will in Serbia take this such big thing that you are the first man or woman to be No.1 in the world? How they will welcome you when you will be back home?
ANA IVANOVIĆ: I haven't thought about it at all. Like I said, I didn't like to talk about, you know, the rankings at all with my team, so I didn't even know that this would happen.
So, you know, it's a new thing for me, too, so I really don't know. I haven't spoke with anyone back home yet. But I'm sure, you know, they're going to be really supportive. And, you know, maybe even like last year, they're going to organise something in front of the square.
It's definitely a great, great feeling, so I hope I going to make Serbia proud.
Q. There's a lot of time between now and the final on Saturday. How did you prepare last year, and how will you prepare this year? Will you change something?
ANA IVANOVIĆ: No, I think it's most important, you know, to just have an easier day tomorrow, get a little bit light hit and rhythm, and then have a good night of sleep.
Obviously, sometimes it's hard with all the emotions to go to sleep, but that's, you know, something you face.
But today, I think it's most important to recover from this match. It was long match, a lot of long rallies, so my fitness-coach is doing a great job with that, also. Yeah, like I said, just take it easy, and like I've been doing through whole two weeks, exactly the same approach.
Ivanović on top of the world
By Drew Lilley (www.rolandgarros.com)
In a titanic battle that ebbed and flowed for over two hours, Ana Ivanović outlasted Jelena Janković to ensure Serbian bragging-rights and become next Monday's world No.1. More importantly, the 6-4 3-6 6-4 win booked her a place in the women's final to face No.13 seed Dinara Safina.
This was always going to be an intriguing tie and, with all due respect to surprise-package Safina, one worthy of being a final. Ana Ivanović was in her fifth semi-final of 2008 and her fourth semi in the last five Grand Slams (a quarter-final elimination at the 2007 US Open being the exception). Jelena Janković meanwhile was looking to reach her first-ever Slam final, and also go some way to improving her poor record against her fellow Serb, having only beaten the Basle-resident once in six tries: in Los Angeles in 2006.
In an ironic twist of fate, the two players were also forced to play the opposite game to what they usually prefer. Ivanović is an out-an-out attacker who likes to hit big and hit early, while Janković is a clay-courter who favours longer rallies and letting her opponents make the running. With the Belgrade-native suffering from a strained forearm, however, she was always going to be more inclined to look for winners, with Ivanović being more patient and hoping that her older opponent would feel the strain physically.
Thus it was that Janković raced into a three-love lead in the opening set, coming to the net and taking brave volleys in an attempt to keep it short and sweet. The ladies shared a pair of breaks before the No.3 seed's service began to falter and Ivanović pounced. Laying down a deft dropshot, she brought her opponent into the net before lining an inch-perfect backhand passing-shot and breaking back to 3-4. The remainder of the set was virtual one-way traffic as Ana held to love, broke as Jelena double-faulted, and served out to take a one-love lead.
The second set was another see-saw affair, with Ivanović originally carrying the impetus over from the opener and carving out a 3-1 lead on the back of some great crosscourt passing-shots. Janković was also looking less assured and no longer willing to come into the net, but she was handed a reprieve when all of a sudden, Ivanović's service began to let her down. Janković needed no second bidding and stepped up her game, passing her increasingly flustered opponent almost at will. From a set and 1-3 down, suddenly Jelena was level at one set all, and she did not stop there, breaking and holding to open the decider.
With a two-game deficit to overcome, Ana finally found her feet again, and at least put an end to the seven-game run that Jelena had strung together, but the battler from Belgrade began to stride into the net again and take volleys rather than half-volleys, as she had done to great effect in the opener, holding serve to lead 3-1. Two breaks were then shared as nerves began to creep in, but with Janković serving at 4-3 and a mere eight points from glory, it was as if Ana sensed that the moment had come to step up and seize her destiny. The 20-year-old six-footer carved out a 0/40 lead with some bold strokes, and needed all three break-points, converting the last one and swinging the match definitively in her favour.
Janković served to save the match at 4-5, but by then there was no stopping her younger opponent. A feathered dropshot, an inside-out forehand and a booming return on a second serve clinched the match, to the delight of the Chatrier-crowd.
"She just started playing really good tennis, and I maybe started to be too static and not stepping up like I should," said Ivanović, explaining how Janković 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 Janković, however, despite ups and downs, Justine Henin's retirement and the early eliminations of the Williams-sisters and Maria Sharapova, she remains stuck in third spot. Her first Grand Slam final is a long time coming...
Ivanović beats Janković to reach final (Reuters)
Writing by Simon Cambers, editing by Justin Palmer
Serbia's Ana Ivanović staved off a stirring fightback by compatriot Jelena Janković to reach the French Open final with a 6-4 3-6 6-4 victory on Thursday and clinch the world number-one ranking.
The second seed - the runner-up last year - led by a set and 3-1, only for Janković to level and go ahead 3-1 in the decider herself, before Ivanović recovered again to set up a final against Russian 13th seed Dinara Safina.
"It was a very tough match - there were lots of ups and downs," a relieved Ivanović said. "I was just so happy to stay strong in the end and win the match, but it was a very tough one.
"[From 3-1 in the second set], I think she just started playing really good tennis.
"Maybe I started to be a bit too passive, but she's a very good player, and if you give her chances, she is going to take them."
Janković had been struggling with right-arm and right-shoulder injuries throughout the tournament, but she came out firing as she raced to a 3-0 lead.
Ivanović, who won just three games in the 2007 final against Justine Henin, looked in trouble again on the big stage, but she bounced back superbly, taking the attack to Janković to snatch the set and then lead 3-1 in the second.
The second seed had a break-point for a 4-1 lead, but Janković saved it, and suddenly the match changed.
As Ivanović tightened up, Janković won seven straight games to lead 2-0 in the decider, and though Ivanović broke back, Janković moved ahead again with another break at 4-3.
But Ivanović - the runner-up at the Australian Open in January - pulled herself together to clinch a victory that ensures she will overtake Russian Maria Sharapova at the top of the rankings when they are updated on Monday.
Ivanović said she expected a difficult final against Safina, who followed up her wins over Sharapova and Elena Dementieva with a straight-sets drubbing of a third Russian - Svetlana Kuznetsova - in the semi-finals on Thursday.
"She has had a great run, and it's going to be a very tough match," Ivanović said. "But I have a day off now, so I just want to recover and hopefully perform well again."
Ivanović is top Serb as she reaches French Open tennis-final (AFP)
Second seed Ana Ivanović won the battle of the Serbs in a thrilling French Open semi-final on Thursday, and will play Russia's Dinara Safina for the title on Saturday.
The 20-year-old Ivanović defeated 23-year-old Jelena Janković 6-4 3-6 6-4 to reach the final at Roland Garros for the second straight year, having lost to Justine Henin in last year's final.
She also reached the Australian Open final in January, but lost to Maria Sharapova.
For third-seeded Janković, it was the fourth time she had played in a Grand Slam semi-final, and the fourth time she had failed to make it through.
The 13th-seeded Safina had earlier defeated compatriot and fourth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3 6-2 in the first of the semi-finals.
"It was a tough match, and I managed to stay strong at the end to win it," said Ivanović.
"She started to play really good tennis and I was too passive, and if you give her a chance, of course she is going to use it."
Janković, again wearing an arm-brace to ward off the pain she has been feeling from tendonitis, opened the stronger and broke serve to 15 in the second game to take a 3-0 lead.
She threatened to make it 4-0, but Ivanović held on, visibly growing in confidence after winning the game at the end of a long, punishing rally.
She broke back in the following game, only to drop her own serve in the next as Janković got to 4-2.
But the younger woman's heavier groundstrokes started to make the difference as she won the next four games to take the set 6-4 in 41 minutes.
Janković dropped her serve for the fourth straight time to open the second set, allowing Ivanović to jump out into a 2:0 lead.
In stark contrast to the first few games, Ivanović was looking comfortable on her serve, while it was a struggle each time for her opponent on hers.
But all that changed in the sixth game of the set, when Ivanović inexplicably let slip a 40/0 lead to allow Janković to draw level at 3-3.
She was broken again two games later, and Janković served out to level the scores, although she needed four set-points to do so.
Ivanović had nervily lost her way, and against one of the grittiest players on the women's circuit, that was a fatal mistake.
Janković won the first two games of the deciding set to make it seven games in a row, but Ivanović stopped the rot and got back on level terms at 3-3 by breaking to love in the sixth game.
Another exchange of service-breaks took it to 4-4, and two games later, Ivanović played her best game of the semi-final, opening up with her groundstrokes to clinch the win.
There was the added bonus for Ivanović in that her win, coupled with the defeat of Kuznetsova, means that she will take over from Maria Sharapova as world No.1 at the end of this tournament - win or lose in the final.
She has played Safina three times and won twice, but the Russian won the only time they have played on clay: in Berlin three years ago.
Despondent Janković takes defeat hard (Reuters)
By Simon Cambers (editing by Justin Palmer)
A dejected Jelena Janković exited the French Open at the semi-final stage on Thursday, promising to "k*** herself", "get d****" or do "anything that makes me feel better".
The third seed was beaten 6-4 3-6 6-4 by fellow Serbian Ana Ivanović in a topsy-turvy semi-final, having rallied from a set and 1-3 down to lead 3-1 in the deciding set.
Missing out on a first Grand-Slam final and the knowledge that had she won, she would have become the new world number-one when the rankings are updated on Monday, was too much for the 23-year-old.
Janković admitted that she was crying so hard afterwards that she did not want to talk about the match with the assembled media.
Asked what she would do to get over the defeat, she responded: "K*** myself?"
"No, I will have some dinner and maybe get d**** or do something. I don't know. Whatever makes me feel better."
Having lost all three of her previous Grand-Slam semi-finals, Janković twice led by a break of serve in the final set, only for last year's runner-up Ivanović to hit back and clinch victory.
"I am very disappointed, but I still cannot go and k*** myself and put myself down," she said.
"The year is still long. There are still two more Grand Slams, many big tournaments to play. I still have to work hard and believe in myself, and I will achieve my goal."
Janković said she had given her all after a fortnight in which she had struggled with right-arm and shoulder-problems.
"I tried my best," she said. "I'm very disappointed that I lost this match. I didn't go to the final. I lost the number-one spot. This match was very important.
"Sometimes you cannot control the injuries, and especially with my arm. I had problems hitting the ball as hard as I could, and she was the more powerful one.
"I need to work on that, get healthy, and then it will be better for me. I have to keep believing in myself, and I have to work hard, and believe that my time will come."
All-or-nothing attitude key to win, says Ivanović (Reuters)
By Simon Cambers (editing by Justin Palmer)
Ana Ivanović said her win-or-bust attitude saw her through to the final of the French Open on Thursday and secured her the world number-one ranking for the first time.
Having squandered a set and 3-1 lead to fall 1-3 down in the deciding set against fellow Serbian Jelena Janković, she stormed back to win 6-4 3-6 6-4 thanks to a series of winners, putting her into the final against Russian Dinara Safina.
"Today I felt, especially in the second set when I had some break-point chances, I started to be too defensive and not stepping up and being dominant," Ivanović said.
"Obviously I had a great tournament and great preparation, so that gives me confidence in these key moments to believe and to step up.
"She's a player that if you give her chances, she can use them. She loves to defend and to run, so you just have to take these kind of risks and believe. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't."
Ivanović was typically emotional in the semi-final, pumping her fist in delight at her winners, and looking up to her support-group in the stands after every mistake.
There were plenty of mistakes in the second set as Janković levelled the match and then moved ahead 3-1 in the decider, but Ivanović pulled herself together in the nick of time before roaring back for victory.
"There was a little bit of anxiety built up, because I had my chances in the second set and didn't use them," she said.
"She started playing really well, and I was too passive at times. I tried to step up a little bit more and then made some unforced errors, so I had to go back to basics.
"I found it hard at the time, but towards the end of the set, I managed to calm down and step up."
Ivanović will replace Maria Sharapova at the top of the world-rankings when the new list is issued on Monday, but the Serbian said she had not been aware, before starting her semi-final, that victory would take her to the top.
"I'm very, very thrilled," she said. "I didn't know going on to court today. Afterwards, in the locker-room, the woman told me. I was obviously very excited.
"But still, on the other hand, the tournament hasn't ended and the rankings are coming after the tournament. Obviously every tournament you play you want to win, so that still hasn't changed."
^I can't believe Ana didn't know that they were playing for the #1 ranking!
Ivanović hangs tough to set up Safina date (Reuters)
By Pritha Sarkar (editing by Clare Lovell)
For once, Dinara Safina chose not to use up one of her 'many lives' on Thursday, and swept into a French Open final against the new queen of women's tennis.
Ana Ivanović produced a scrappy, brittle and erratic performance, but that did not stop her from ascending to the top of the women's rankings following a 6-4 3-6 6-4 win over fellow Serb Jelena Janković.
Ivanović may have fulfilled one of her childhood-dreams by ending Maria Sharapova's reign as world number-one, but she will be aware that top spot will count for little if she fails to win the claycourt-crown at Roland Garros on Saturday.
"It was a tough match; there were lots of ups and down. I was just so happy to stay strong in the end and win the match, but it was a very tough one," said Ivanović: a finalist here 12 months ago, and at the Australian Open in January.
Asked what her plans would be for the night after she blew a 3-1 lead in the final set, Janković joked: "K*** myself?"
While Janković tried to comprehend another semi-final flop at a Major, Ivanović will be hoping it will be third time lucky.
To win the title, Ivanović will have to break the indomitable spirit of Safina, who reached her first Grand Slam final by overpowering fellow Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3 6-2.
The younger sister of Marat Safin had staged two successive great escapes, coming from a set and match-points down to beat Sharapova and seventh seed Elena Dementieva, to reach the semis.
It led to fourth seed Kuznetsova declaring: "She has too many lives, so I have to be careful with her."
But the 2004 US Open champion failed to heed her own words, and became the third top-ten seed to fall under Safina's spell.
Ivanović had shimmied into the last four, dropping only 20 games en route. But her contest against Janković, in which the number-one ranking was also on the line, was plain ugly.
Both players had honed their skills in a drained swimming-pool back home in Belgrade, but they might as well have been playing in a pool of water as they struggled to stay afloat.
Error after error was followed by break-point after break-point. With neither being able to assert her authority, both became tetchy, and tested the umpire's patience by dragging him down from his chair time and again to inspect the mark on the close line-calls.
In the end, the statistics told their own story. With at least 30 break-points in the match and 13 of them being converted, the first all-Serb Grand Slam semi-final will not be remembered as a classic.
^A harsh assessment. I think it was a fantastic match.
Ivanović, Safina reach French Open final (PA SportsTicker)
Ana Ivanović is a win away from capping the most memorable tournament of her career.
The second-seeded Serbian advanced to the French Open final on Thursday with a 6-4 3-6 6-4 victory over countrywoman and third seed Jelena Janković.
With the win, Ivanović is certain to overtake Maria Sharapova as the world No.1 when the new rankings are released on Monday. The 20-year-old, who will hold the top spot for the first time in her budding career, also happens to be in position to secure her first Grand Slam title.
"I'm thrilled," Ivanović said. "I didn't know at all (about the rankings-scenario) going onto the court today, and a woman in locker-room told me afterward, so I was obviously very excited.
"But the tournament has not ended, and the rankings are coming after the tournament. I have another tough match ahead, so that's all I want to focus on."
The runner-up to former No.1 and recently-retired Justine Henin here last year, Ivanović will face Russian upstart Dinara Safina in Saturday's final.
The 13th-seeded Safina completed an improbable run to the championship-match earlier on Thursday with a 6-3 6-2 victory over fourth-seeded countrywoman Svetlana Kuznetsova.
It's been an amazing week for the 22-year-old Safina, who had advanced to the semi-finals of this claycourt Major with consecutive upsets of the top-seeded Sharapova and No.7 Elena Dementieva.
In both of those three-set victories, she was down 2-5 in the second set and survived a match-point, before pushing her way back into the match.
"Being a point away from losing two times already, I was thinking, 'God kept me in this tournament,'" said Safina, who is enjoying the best stretch of her career.
En route to her lone title of the year in Berlin last month, Safina defeated Henin - who retired following the loss - current No.5 Serena Williams and Dementieva.
Kuznetsova was one of three players remaining with a opportunity to grab the top spot from Sharapova. Her defeat, however, guaranteed that the honour would go to the winner of the all-Serbian semi-final at Roland Garros.
In addition to missing out on the No.1 ranking, Janković also was denied her first Grand Slam championship-match appearance, as she fell to 0:4 in Major semi-finals.
The 23-year-old led 4-2 early on, before Ivanović found her form and won seven of the next eight games to close out the first set and forge a 3-1 edge in the second.
The momentum, however, emphatically shifted in favour of Janković, who reeled off seven straight games to even the match at a set apiece and take a 2-0 edge in the decisive third set.
Ivanović fell behind 1-3 in the third, and the hole nearly got deeper in the fifth game, when she had to scramble to hold serve after facing another break. Neither player held serve over the next three service-games, knotting things at 4-4.
"The whole match was lots of up and downs, lots of breaks," said Ivanović, who won seven of the 18 break-points she forced. "I just knew I had to put everything on the line being down 3-4 and a break. I felt I had to take risks, and I came came up with some good shots."
After holding to go up 5-4, Ivanović secured the win on her first set point, ripping a forehand winner off a second serve from Janković. It was Ivanović's fifth straight win over Janković, who fell to 1:6 in their all-time series.
"I was trying my best - the match could have gone either way," said Janković, who converted six of 12 break-points. "I had the lead in the third and just let it slip away.
"I'm very disappointed that I lost this match. I didn't go to the final, and I lost chance to become No.1. This match was very important. But I'll keep working hard, and my time will come."
Ivanović dislodges Sharapova to secure top ranking (Reuters)
By Pritha Sarkar (editing by Justin Palmer)
Ana Ivanović will become the first player representing Serbia to be ranked world number-one when the new WTA rankings are released on Monday. [Second - Monica Seles was the first.]
The 20-year-old Serb dislodged Russia's Maria Sharapova from the top when she defeated compatriot Jelena Janković to reach the final of the French Open on Thursday.
"Being number one is a dream come true for me," said Ivanović, who will face Russian Dinara Safina in the Roland Garros showpiece on Saturday.
"It was a big surprise, because I was so focused on the tournament. This is a great achievement and something that I'm very proud of. It hasn't exactly hit me yet, because it won't be official until Monday. I'm sure we'll have a big celebration then."
Ivanović had been in a four-way race with Janković and Russians Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova to secure the top spot at the end of the claycourt Grand Slam.
But the defeats of her three main rivals before Saturday's final means Ivanović clinched the ranking early.
Sharapova's latest stint at the top spot will have lasted for only three weeks, as she took over as world number-one after Justine Henin requested to be removed from the standings following her retirement last month.
The Serbian is the 17th player to claim the top spot since its inception in the mid 1970s.
"We have all witnessed the dramatic rise in Serbian tennis during the last few years, and on Monday that will reach a new pinnacle when Ana Ivanović is recognised as the WTA Tour's new number-one player," WTA Tour chief Larry Scott said in a statement.
"Ana is both a remarkable player and person, and no doubt the best is still yet to come in her still-young career. It is inspiring to see Ana's years of hard work and determination being rewarded."
Ivanović has enjoyed a remarkable 12 months, which includes reaching two French Open finals and a runner-up finish at the Australian Open in January.
Ivanović beats Janković; faces Safina in French Open final
By Howard Fendrich: AP Tennis Writer
If official statistics were tallied for fist-pumps and self-exhortations during Grand Slam matches, Ana Ivanović might well have established a record while winning her French Open semi-final.
Perhaps Ivanović did not raise a clenched hand and let out a yelp after each of the 96 points she earned. It sure did seem that way to the woman she beat 6-4 3-6 6-4 on Thursday: Jelena Janković, who mocked the gesture at least twice, drawing guffaws from fans.
There was plenty at stake, and nerves clearly were raw.
The winner was assured of replacing Maria Sharapova at No.1 in the rankings, in addition to earning a berth in Saturday's championship-match against 13th-seeded Dinara Safina. The younger sister of two-time Major-champion Marat Safin followed up her twin escape-from-match-point-down, three-set upsets of Sharapova and No.7 Elena Dementieva with a straightforward 6-3 6-2 victory over No.4 Svetlana Kuznetsova to reach her first Grand Slam final.
"I won in two sets," Safina said with a smile. "That's strange for me."
The No.2-seeded Ivanović and No.3 Janković produced a seesaw struggle filled with stretches of alternately brilliant and bad play by two women who are both from Serbia but hardly best friends.
"The match was really emotional," said Ivanović: twice a finalist at Majors but never a champion.
Janković led 3-0 at the start. Ivanović, though, won 16 of 18 points to end the first set, part of a six-game spurt. Then Janković used a seven-game run to claim the second set and a 2-0 lead in the third. And, rising to the occasion, Ivanović took the final three games.
"I let it slip away," acknowledged the 23-year-old Janković, who was asked what she would do on Thursday night and replied: "I will have some dinner and maybe get d****."
As for all of her fist-pumps and shouts, Ivanović explained: "It was a way to relieve pressure, emotions I was feeling, and it worked well for me today. I didn't think about it. It just came natural."
Twice in the second set, Janković turned her back to Ivanović and mimicked her uppercuts.
"For me, it's really funny the way she does that, and there's nothing wrong with that. I mean, each of us, we have our own way to, how to say, pump ourselves up. The way she does — I just imitated it," said Janković, now 0:4 in Grand Slam semi-finals.
"I saw her doing that, so that's why I did it," Janković said. "The crowd enjoyed it, for some reason."
Janković was limited by a right forearm-injury that bothered her so much earlier in the tournament that she flew home to Belgrade to visit her doctor. She began the semi-final with a bandage wrapped around the arm, but took it off while trailing in the second set.
"I had problems hitting the ball as hard as I could," Janković said, "and she was the more powerful one."
Ivanović finished with a 50:16 edge in winners, but that doesn't indicate just how many terrific baseline-exchanges there were, filled with well-angled shots and on-the-run retrieving. On points that lasted at least 10 strokes, Ivanović won 20 and Janković won 19.
"She loves to defend and to run, so you just have to take these kind of risks — and believe," Ivanović said. "Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't."
At the very end, it worked. After double-faulting to hand Janković a 4-3 lead in the final set, Ivanović turned things around by hitting a forehand winner followed by a backhand passing winner for break-points. She converted with a forehand right on a line to get to 4-4.
Ivanović held to 5-4, then used her best shot — her forehand — to great effect. Her four points in the last game were earned with a forehand return, a dropshot, an inside-out forehand, and a forehand return.
"She kind of woke up," said Ivanović's coach: Sven Groeneveld.
Each time Ivanović won a point, Groeneveld was celebrating right along with her, rising from his seat in the players' guest-box to applaud loudly and shout encouragement. He won't be back in that spot on Saturday: rather than working directly for Ivanović, he is employed by her apparel-sponsor — which she happens to share with Safina.
It was the same situation a year ago, when Ivanović made her Grand Slam final début at the French Open and managed to win only three games against the now-retired Justine Henin: another player linked to that sponsor.
Ivanović was only slightly better in the Australian Open final in January, when she won eight games in a straight-set loss to Sharapova.
"I really hope I can step up this time," Ivanović said.
Ivanović hopes to build on past-experience
By Jamie Strickland: PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
Ana Ivanović vowed to learn from her French Open heartbreak of 12 months ago after booking a place in the Roland Garros final for the second straight year.
The second seed prevailed in an all-Serbian semi-final clash against Jelena Janković on Thursday - her 6-4 3-6 6-4, victory on Philippe Chatrier Court set up a meeting with Dinara Safina in Saturday's final.
The 20-year-old is seeking her maiden Grand Slam title after failing at the last hurdle twice previously - the second time at this year's Australian Open.
Ivanović insists her listless 6-1 6-2 defeat to former No.1 Justine Henin in the 2007 final has given her a wealth of experience from which to draw.
"The other day, someone asked me, 'Are you going to forget the  final and play a different one?'" Ivanović said. "But I don't want to forget it, because it was a great learning-experience.
"I learned a lot from Justine and the emotions I was feeling going on the court. So I really hope I can work hard on it and play different this year. Obviously, I feel a different player coming into this French Open. I gained a lot of experience from that final, and the final in Australia, so I really hope I can step up this time, and make one more step."
Ivanović's victory over the third-seeded Janković means she is guaranteed to be the new women's world No.1 - replacing Maria Sharapova - when the updated WTA rankings are released on Monday.
"Being No.1 is a dream come true for me," said Ivanović, who will become the 17th player to reach the top spot in WTA history, and the first from Serbia [second - Monica Seles was the first]. "It was a big surprise, because I was so focused on the tournament.
"This is a great achievement and something that I'm very proud of. It hasn't exactly hit me yet, because it won't be official until Monday. I'm sure we'll have a big celebration then."
Janković, who also stood to secure the top spot with a win on Thursday, was disappointed, but managed to keep her sense of humour when asked how she would deal with the loss.
"I will have some dinner and get d****," Janković said. "I don't know - what can make me feel better?"
With reigning Australian Open champion Novak Ðoković set to face three-time defending champion Rafael Nadal in Friday's men's semi-final action, it's been another strong tournament for the Serbs.
"We have all witnessed the dramatic rise in Serbian tennis during the last few years, and on Monday, that will reach a new pinnacle when Ana Ivanović is recognised as the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour's new No.1 player," WTA CEO Larry Scott said. "It is inspiring to see Ana's years of hard work and determination being rewarded."
Ivanović reaches final and takes top spot
Seán Fay (Eurosport)
Ana Ivanović will be the world number-one on Monday after beating fellow Serbian Jelena Janković 6-4 3-6 6-4 in the semi-finals of the French Open at Roland Garros.
After Dinara Safina had beaten Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first semi-final, it meant that the winner of the all-Serbian clash would be guaranteed to top the rankings after the tournament.
Ivanović just edged out her countrywoman though in a back-and-forth contest that really could have gone either way.
Both players produced spells of wonderful tennis, but rarely at the same time, which led to periods of domination from either player at different times during the match.
It was Janković who started strongest as she raced out to early 3-0 and 4-1 leads, but then Ivanović edged a spell of three breaks in a row to level matters 4-4.
That was the beginning of a superb run from the younger player as she rattled off six straight games to go a set and 2-0 in front.
During that spell, Ivanović was dazzlingly powerful as she crushed winner after winner with a high-risk strategy that was highly profitable.
However, some of those shots then started to go astray, and the more limited - yet defensively brilliant - Janković was able to take full advantage.
She came back from 1-3 down to enjoy her own spell of dominance as she won seven games in a row to take the second set and then go a break up in the decider.
Again, though, in a mirror of the first set, there was another spell of three breaks on the trot that Ivanović 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.
It all means that Ivanović will get to compete in her second consecutive French Open final, but while last year she was crushed by the irresistible play of Justine Henin, this time she will go in as favourite against final-rookie Safina.
Safina, Ivanović reach French Open final (AP)
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 Ivanović 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.
Ivanović won a seesaw semi-final against fellow Serb Jelena Janković: 6-4 3-6 6-4. Ivanović 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 US Open and 2005 Australian Open.
"I'm doing it for him and for myself," she said.
Safina will try to become the first woman to win a Grand Slam title after saving match-point in two matches.
Seeded 13th, Safina was one point from defeat against Sharapova in the fourth round and No.7-seeded Elena Dementieva in the quarter-finals 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. "Once I had a set, then I knew I can push a little bit more. Then fire comes and you really like start to fly."
The match between the No.2-seeded Ivanović and No.3 Janković was a roller-coaster, with every set won by the player who fell behind at the start.
Ivanović swept six consecutive games to lead 2-0 in the second set, then began to struggle with her serve while Janković became more aggressive. Janković won seven consecutive games and led 2-0 in the final set before Ivanović 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 Janković.
"It was a lot of ups and downs for both of us," Ivanović said. "I'm just so happy I managed to stay until the end."
Like Safina, Ivanović is seeking her first Major-title. She was runner-up at the 2007 French Open and 2008 Australian Open.
Peaking In Paris: Ivanović Powers To French Open Final And Top Spot
By Tennis Week
The soles of her shoes rapped against the red clay repeatedly, while her head remained still. Forced to play catch-up throughout the final set of this French Open semi-final, Ana Ivanović's eyes never wavered from the ball, while her feet seldom stopped moving.
Even when she was stationary, the second-seeded Serbian looked like a woman going places. And in the end, that forward thinking propelled Ivanović to her second straight French Open final and the top spot in the world rankings with a 6-4 3-6 6-4 victory over third-seeded Jelena Janković in an all-Serbian semi-final.
Ivanović advanced to Saturday's final, where she will play 13th-seeded Dinara Safina. The 22-year-old from Moscow crushed fourth-seeded compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3 6-2 to score her 12th straight victory in reaching her first career Major-final. Ivanović has won two of three meetings with Safina, but the Russian won their lone clay-court clash 6-1 6-4 in Berlin three years ago.
It marks the second Grand Slam final of the season for Ivanović, who lost to Maria Sharapova 7-5 6-3 in the Australian Open final in January.
Kuznetsova's loss meant the winner of the Ivanović-Janković semi would surpass Sharapova in the rankings and give Serbia its first World No.1 [second - Monica Seles was the first].
Playing determined defense, Janković raced around the court with all the urgency of the pace-setter in the Tour de France. She reeled off seven straight games to seize the second set and take a 2-0 lead in the third.
The two-time French Open semi-finalist stretched the lead to 3-1. Ivanović responded, winning eight of the next 10 points to level the set.
The game's premier defensive player applied her speed, agility and desire to impose pressure on Ivanović. Coaxing the bigger-hitter into her fifth double fault, Janković broke at 30 for a 4-3 lead.
Janković's pedestrian serve is the most vulnerable aspect of her game, and Ivanović pounced on it with her favoured forehand to earn triple-break point in the ensuing game. Though Janković saved two break-points, Ivanović cracked a crosscourt forehand winner punctuated by a heartfelt "Ajde!" to break for 4-4.
Over the final three games of the match, Ivanović pressed the issue in rallies, and was rewarded for taking greater risk. Driving another forehand winner that eluded Janković, she held at 30 for 5-4.
Janković, who had dropped serve in succession, stepped up to the line seeking to extend the match, but she could not stop Ivanović's run. A flurry of four forceful winners closed out the 44-minute final set and launched Ivanović into the final.
The Evans Report: Ascendant Ana
By Richard Evans (Tennis Week)
There were two sets of Serbs in the player's area at Roland Garros after Ana Ivanović and Jelena Janković had completed a tremendous semi-final. And it was Ana's Serbs who were toasting each other.
And no wonder. Ivanović turned the third set of her thrilling 6-4 3-6 6-4 victory inside out, unclipping the safety catch on her Springfield rifle of a forehand, and riding to victory like Ana Get Your Gun.
Whatever happens when she meets Dinara Safina - a surprise winner over Svetlana Kuznetsova today - in the final on Saturday, this strikingly beautiful young woman will ascend to the heady heights of No.1 in the world. She is the first Serbian No.1 [second - Monica Seles was the first] but, amazingly, she is unlikely to be the last - in either the men's or women's game.
The match offered an appreciative crowd on Philippe Chatrier Centre Court a real roller-coaster of drama and emotion. Janković went 3-0 up in the first set, only to get broken and lose it. Then Ivanović went ahead in the second, but lost seven straight games as the ever-determined Jelena ran and chased and forced her into error.
When Janković still held control of the match at the start of the third, it seemed that the final, as well as the world No.1 ranking, was beckoning. But sweet Ana, who manages to look angelic in triumph or disaster, kept her head, as Kipling said we must, and crammed more than sixty seconds worth of distance-run into a final flourish that turned the match inside out and snatched everything out of Jelena's grasp.
And how did it look from Ana's side of the court?
"I think all the match was a lot of ups and down, a lot of breaks and I mean: in the third set, I just had to put everything on the line being 4-3 down with the break," she said. "I had to go for my shots because it was a very long match (two hours, 15 minutes) with a lot of long rallies. So I had the feeling I had to step up a bit more and, yeah, take a risk. I came up with some good shots, and the last game was huge. I stepped up and played some good tennis."
The eighth game provided the decisive turning-point. Ivanović scored with a great forehand winner up the line to send her on the way to 0/40 and, two points later, struck with a super off-forehand that hit the line. Off the back of that, Ivanović, now at 4-4, started the ninth game with an ace, and even a change of racket for Janković couldn't stem the final flurry of winners from her pumped up opponent. At 5-4, on Jelena's serve, Ana looked every inch a world No.1 as she drove a great forehand approach-shot deep to her opponent's baseline, and came in to finish the point with the sweetest of dropshots. Another forehand winner took her to match-point, and Janković was spent.
Obviously Janković was incredibly disappointed after losing at the semi-final stage for the second consecutive year in Paris, and admitted to being in floods of tears in the locker-rooms afterwards.
"Very, very bad," she said as another tear appeared in her eye. "To be honest, I don't want to come here. I was crying that bad."
Jelena's sense of humour usually gets her through these things, and she was laughing her head off when asked what she would do that evening.
"K*** myself? I don't know. Now I have to do the doping-test. Whew. Not fun, huh? It's hard sometimes to be a professional athlete. No, I will have some dinner and maybe get d**** or something."
As for the match, Janković said, "I tried my best. Sometimes you cannot control the injuries, especially with my arm. I had problems hitting the ball as hard as I could, and she was the more powerful one."
Powerful, charming, intelligent... Oh, the list is endless. Serbia is blessed to have such an ambassador as Ana Ivanović.
Safina Continues Dream-Run; Ivanović To Rise to No.1
It was a monumental day at Roland Garros on Thursday, as two of the WTA Tour's most talented young stars won through to the final of Roland Garros. For one of them it was a continuation of one of this year's longest and most impressive winning streaks; for the other, it was the match that put her over the top to become the new world No.1.
Ivanović outlasts compatriot Janković in second semi-final
Following the all-Russian semi-final was the all-Serbian semi-final, as second seed Ana Ivanović took on third seed Jelena Janković. It was a see-saw encounter: Janković came out strong for a 4-2 lead, Ivanović began finding the lines to build a 6-4 3-1 lead, Janković fought back with five games in a row of her own to take the second set; in the end it was all about the third set and a will to win, and just like in five of their six previous meetings, it was Ivanović who came through in the clutch, hitting back-to-back forehand winners to close it out 6-4 3-6 6-4.
"The match was lots of ups and downs, lots of breaks," Ivanović said. "In the third set, I had to put everything on the line. Being down a break at 3-4, I had to go for my shots, because it was very long, the match, and a lot of long rallies. I had to step it up a little bit more and take risks. I came up with some good shots, and obviously I feel very good about it. That last game was huge, and I stepped up and played some good tennis."
By virtue of reaching the final (and Kuznetsova and Janković not reaching the final), Ivanović is projected to be the new world No.1 as of Monday. It doesn't matter if she is the champion or runner-up in Paris on Saturday.
"I was trying my best; the match could have gone either way," Janković said. "It was good for me to come back in that second set, because I was down a set and a break, and somehow I managed to win those games and win the second set. I had the lead in the third and just let it slip away. I'm very disappointed that I lost this match. I didn't go to the final and I lost chance to become No.1. This match was very important. But I'll keep working hard, and my time will come."
"I'm very, very thrilled," Ivanović said on the No.1 ranking. "I didn't know going on court today. Afterwards, in the locker-room, I was told. I was obviously very excited. But still, on the other hand, the tournament hasn't ended, and rankings come after the tournament. I have another tough match against Dinara, so that's all I want to focus on right now and until we play on Saturday."
Ivanović and Safina have played three times previously, with Ivanović having a 2:1 advantage in those. In their only previous meeting on clay, Safina was a 6-1 6-4 winner at Berlin back in 2005; but that was before either one of them really hit the big time (Ivanović was ranked No.34; Safina was ranked No.36).
One thing working in Ivanović's favour may be that she has played two singles-finals at Grand Slams before, finishing runner-up here last year (to Justine Henin) and at the Australian Open this season (to Maria Sharapova). Safina's best Grand Slam showings before this were quarter-finals at Roland Garros and the US Open in 2006. But among her victims in the aforementioned streak have been six top-ten players, including No.1s Henin and Sharapova.
"All the pressure is on her," said Safina on Ivanović. "I'll be trying to do what I need to do on the court. I'm going to give everything I have. If I've got to die on court, I will. There is absolutely no reason to save any of my energy in the final. I'll be using all of the energy I have."
And The New World No.1 is...
The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour will crown a new world No.1 on Monday 9th June, when the latest rankings are published, following Ana Ivanović's nail-biting win over compatriot Jelena Janković in the semi-finals of Roland Garros on Thursday. Ivanović replaces Maria Sharapova at the top of rankings after a three-week reign by the Russian, and becomes the first player representing Serbia to hold the No.1 ranking [second - Monica Seles was the first], adding yet another milestone to her already long list of remarkable accomplishments.
What started as an historic day in Paris, with three of the four semi-finalists primed to become No.1 in the world for the very first time in their careers (Ivanović, Janković and Svetlana Kuznetsova), finished as a one-woman race, with Ivanović to face Dinara Safina in the final for the first Grand Slam singles-title of their careers on Saturday. Regardless of the outcome of that match, Ivanović will become world No.1 on Monday.
At 20 years and seven months, Ivanović becomes the seventh-youngest player to reach No.1 since Tour rankings were created in 1975, behind Martina Hingis (1997), Monica Seles (1991), Tracy Austin (1980), She Who Must Not Be Named (1987), Maria Sharapova (2005) and Kim Clijsters (2003), who were all at least 20 years and three months or younger when they got there. The Serbian also becomes the 17th top-ranked player in women's-tennis history, joining a distinguished list that is comprised of Chris Evert, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Martina Navrátilová, Austin, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Justine Henin, Clijsters, Jennifer Capriati, Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario, Amélie Mauresmo, Seles, She Who Must Not Be Named, Hingis, Lindsay Davenport and Sharapova.
"Being No.1 is a dream come true for me," Ivanović said. "It was a big surprise because I was so focused on the tournament. This is a great achievement and something that I'm very proud of. It hasn't exactly hit me yet because it won't be official until Monday. I'm sure we'll have a big celebration then."
"We have all witnessed the dramatic rise in Serbian tennis during the last few years, and on Monday that will reach a new pinnacle when Ana Ivanović is recognised as the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour's new No.1 player," said Larry Scott, Chairman & CEO of the Tour. "Ana is both a remarkable player and person, and no doubt the best is still yet to come in her still-young career. It is inspiring to see Ana's years of hard work and determination being rewarded."
Aldo Liguori, Sony Ericsson Corporate VP and Head of Global Communications & PR, said: "We at Sony Ericsson congratulate Ana Ivanović on becoming the new Sony Ericsson WTA Tour world No.1, and celebrate her success at Roland Garros. Ana is only the second new world No.1 since Sony Ericsson signed the landmark sponsorship-deal with the Tour in 2005, and is one of only six players who have been world No.1 in that time. Among Lindsay Davenport, Maria Sharapova, Kim Clijsters, Amélie Mauresmo and Justine Henin, Ana is in illustrious company. She is a worthy successor."
Ivanović has had a remarkable 12 months, posting particularly strong results at the Major events, reaching the finals of the Australian Open and Roland Garros in 2008, while being a semi-finalist at Wimbledon and the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships in 2007 - all told, she's reached the semi-finals or better in nine of her 18 events in the last 52 weeks.
This year alone, Ivanović has won one title at the prestigious Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells California, defeating Janković and Kuznetsova en route. She was runner-up to Sharapova at the Australian Open in January, and a semi-finalist at two other Tour-stops in Sydney and Berlin en route to compiling a 26:6 match win-loss record coming into the Roland Garros final.
Ivanović first burst to prominence less than four years ago in the second round of Zürich, where, as a 16-year old qualifier, she pushed Venus Williams to two tiebreaks after holding set-points in each set, and has steadily risen up the rankings since then. Her season-ending ranking has improved from No.705 (in 2003), to No.97 (in 2004), to No.16 (in 2005), to No.14 (in 2006) and to No.4 (in 2007).
Janković v Ivanović as it happened:
4. Girls' Singles
4.1 Quarter-final result (Thursday 5th June)
- KSENIA LYKINA  lt. SIMONA HALEP , 1-6 2-6
5. Order of play for Friday
No Women's Singles on Friday - just the Men's Singles semi-finals, the Women's Doubles final, the Mixed Doubles final, and various lesser disciplines.
Full order of play:
Dr. Andrew Broad
Last edited by andrewbroad; Jun 6th, 2008 at 02:19 AM.