By Patrick Vignal
PARIS, June 7 (Reuters) - 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 pressure.”
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.