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Ivanovic and Safina set up final showdown

Latest update : 2008-06-05

Ana Ivanovic came out on top after a thrilling French Open semi-final against fellow Serb Jelena Jankovic, setting up a final clash with Russia's Dinara Safina on Saturday. Ivanovic will top the women's ranking whoever clinches the title.

Second seed Ana Ivanovic 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 Ivanovic defeated 23-year-old Jelena Jankovic 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 Jankovic 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 Ivanovic.

"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."

Jankovic, 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 Ivanovic 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 Jankovic 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.

Jankovic dropped her serve for the fourth straight time to open the second set allowing Ivanovic to jump out into a 2-0 lead.

In stark contrast to the first few games, Ivanovic 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 Ivanovic inexplicably let slip a 40-0 lead to allow Jankovic to draw level at 3-3.

She was broken again two games later and Jankovic served out to level the scores although she needed four set points to do so.

Ivanovic had nervily lost her way and against one of the grittiest players on the women's circuit that was a fatal mistake.

Jankovic won the first two games of the deciding set to make it seven games in a row, but Ivanovic 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 Ivanovic played her best game of the semi-final opening up with her groundstrokes to clinch the win.

There was the added bonus for Ivanovic 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.

Date created : 2008-06-05