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Archive for Friday, June 6, 2008

Ivanovic to ascend to top ranking

Victory against Jankovic means berth in French final

June 6, 2008

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— If official statistics were tallied for fist pumps and self-exhortations during Grand Slam matches, Ana Ivanovic might well have established a record while winning her French Open semifinal.

Perhaps Ivanovic 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 Thursday, Jelena Jankovic, 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 men's semifinals today feature No. 1 Roger Federer vs. unseeded Gael Monfils, and No. 2 Rafael Nadal vs. No. 3 Novak Djokovic.

The No. 2-seeded Ivanovic and No. 3 Jankovic 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 Ivanovic, twice a finalist at majors but never a champion.

Jankovic led 3-0 at the start. Ivanovic, though, won 16 of 18 points to end the first set, part of a six-game spurt. Then Jankovic used a seven-game run to claim the second set and a 2-0 lead in the third. And, rising to the occasion, Ivanovic took the final three games.

"I let it slip away," acknowledged the 23-year-old Jankovic.

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