By Patrick Vignal
PARIS, June 7 Serbia's Ana Ivanovic reached the
final of a grand slam tournament for the first time with a 6-2
6-1 demolition of world number two Maria Sharapova at the French
Open on Thursday.
Ivanovic performed close to perfection to set up a showdown
with world number one Justine Henin, who outplayed Serbia's
Jelena Jankovic 6-2 6-2 in the other semi-final.
The 19-year-old Ivanovic, seeded seventh, beat former
Wimbledon champion Sharapova in just 65 minutes, sealing victory
with an ace on the first match point to become the first player
representing Serbia to make the final of a grand slam event.
"I knew I had to be aggressive from the beginning and that's
what I tried to do," said Ivanovic. "I knew she was not a great
mover on clay and I tried to play deep balls to put her under
Russia's Sharapova, 20, is more at ease on faster surfaces
and had never gone beyond the quarter-finals on the Paris clay
before this year.
The former world number one, who said here last week she
felt like a "cow on ice" on clay, accumulated unforced errors
and looked helpless at times.
"I felt I gave her the chances to open up the court",
Sharapova said. "She was always the one getting the first hit on
the ball. That's not really the way I should have played."
Ivanovic broke Sharapova with a forehand pass in the second
game and did it again in the sixth courtesy of a double fault
from the Russian.
The Serbian then served for the set, leading 5-1, but was
broken when she hit a forehand wide.
Ivanovic was soon back in control, however, managing a
further break in the next game thanks to another double fault
from Sharapova to wrap up the set after 32 minutes.
The second set was even more one-sided, Ivanovic opening up
a 5-0 lead before allowing Sharapova to win a service game.
Serving for the match, Ivanovic then quickly earned three
match points but only needed one.
Sharapova, who has been fighting a string of injuries and
said here she was being hampered by a sore shoulder, has not won
a title this year and has never reached he final of a claycourt
tournament in her career.