Serbian aces looking to upset top two

6th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 6, 2007 (AFP) - High-flying Serbs Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic will be looking to upset the world's top two women's tennis players in Thursday's French Open semi-finals to set up an unprecedented all-Serbian final at Roland Garros.

PARIS, June 6, 2007 (AFP) - High-flying Serbs Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic will be looking to upset the world's top two women's tennis players in Thursday's French Open semi-finals to set up an unprecedented all-Serbian final at Roland Garros.

It is the first time that two women from Serbia have reached the semi-finals of a Grand Slam event, and both Jankovic and Ivanovic admitted they would relish a tie between countrywomen.

Both are also bidding to follow in the footsteps of compatriot Monica Seles who won three times here under the Yugoslavian flag from 1990-1992.

But two tough obstacles stand in their way - two-time defending champion Justine Henin, ranked number one in the world, and number two Maria Sharapova of Russia.

Jankovic, seeded fourth, has never beaten three-time winner Henin in their five previous meetings, while Ivanovic, seeded seven, stands 1-1 against US Open and former Wimbledon champion Sharapova.

The 22-year-old Jankovic has lost three times on clay to the 25-year-old Belgian, including twice this year in Warsaw and Berlin.

She has however been boosted by winning three of her four WTA titles this year including on clay in Rome.

"I think I can do it, it's a matter of staying concentrated and being mentally tough," explained Jankovic.

"I feel that I'm really physically very fit and I feel like I move so well on the clay."

But although the Florida-based player feels victory is close with all their previous ties going to three sets, Henin is not ready to hand over her crown particularly after missing the opening Grand Slam of the year in Australia following the breakup of her marriage.

"I don't have anything to prove to anyone on this surface. I did it in the past. I just want to do it for myself because I love it so much," said the five-time Grand Slam winner.

But she remains wary of her opponent.

"She's improved so much. She's a great player. She can play very well on the clay. It's been a long fight every time. She doesn't make a lot of errors," explained Henin.

"I would say that if I'm ready to set my game together in all likelihood I might win. But it will be a tricky match."

Sharapova, meanwhile, admitted she would not be surprised if she won the tournament after reaching the final four at the fifth time of asking.

The 20-year-old has always been dismissed as a French Open contender with the demanding clay surface exposing her problems with movement around the court.

But having now reached at least the semi-finals of all the four Grand Slams she believes her time has come.

"I wouldn't be surprised if I won the tournament," said Sharapova.

"Others might be surprised because I didn't play a lot on clay when I was younger.

"It also doesn't surprise me that I'm in the semi-finals. I am proud to have made it. In every tournament I play, I always believe in myself whether it's clay or mud. I know what I'm capable of."

Ivanovic, 19, won their last meeting on carpet in Tokyo this year when Sharapova retired. The Russian won their previous meeting last year in Linz.

Ivanoic is competing in her third Roland Garros and she has reached the quarter-finals for the past two years.

But her breakthrough came this year in Berlin when her win on clay there catapulted her into the world's top ten.

And if she can stay fit from an ankle injury she picked up in Germany she could reach her first Grand Slam final.

"Two years ago when I reached the quarter-final that was my first year on the tour. Since then I think I've improved a lot on my game, and there's a big difference in my fitness," explained the Swiss-based Ivanovic.

She is also hoping that her new coach here Sven Groenefeld, who also coached Sharapova in the past, will give her some tips on how to get past the Russian.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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