In an amazing display, Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova beat Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic in women’s semifinal to meet 19-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams for the French Open Crown. In a match that saw emotions flying, high quality tennis from both players delighted the fans. The match could have gone either way but Safarova edged out the 2008 champion to earn the honor of being the first Czech woman to enter the French Open final since Hana Mandlikova won the title 34 years ago. In order to repeat Mandlikova’s 1981 feat, Safarova will have to beat top seed Serena Williams. The American fought illness and the vastly improved 25-year old Swiss star Timea Bacsinszky in the other semifinal at Philippe Chatrier. The flu made the top seed wobbly at times and affected her court coverage. The 33-year old Serena has struggled with illness since her third round match against Victoria Azarenka but somehow she could manage to keep herself afloat. She began by losing the first set and was driven to despair in the second before reeling off 10 straight points to win against the Swiss. After her victory, the sick Serena couldn’t stand to her media commitments and retired to the dressing rooms. The world no.1 American is trying to win her third French Open and 20th Grand Slam.
French Open finalist. How fun is that? Watching Lucie beam after winning her last few matches in Paris has been so great to see, and part of what makes sports so amazing to follow. Emotions!! She more than backed up her big win over 2-time RG champ Maria Sharapova in the fourth round with straight set wins over Garbine Muguruza and now Ana Ivanovic and is now into the FINAL. There were nerves on both sides, streaks of amazing tennis from both and overall just an emotional roller coaster match between two players few would have chosen to make it far in Paris. Ana lead 4-1 in set one and failed to serve out the set, won by Lucie 7-5. The Czech then served for the match at 5-4 in the second set but threw in three double faults (one up match point! oops) before she was able to break and serve it out on her second attempt for the win. You gotta feel for Ivanovic, as this was a huge chance for her to advance to her first slam final since she won the French Open in 2008.
After 12 years on women’s circuit, Lucie Safarova has finally reached a Grand Slam final in Paris on Saturday. Her progress in the tournament has been remarkable as she hasn’t dropped a set so far. On Thursday, she faced the no.7 seeded and 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic. When the match began, Ivanovic looked a more assured player as she stormed to a 3-0 lead over the Czech. But the left-handed Safarova was not intimidated and fought back to make the score 2-5. From here onwards, Safarova reeled off 5 points on the trot. At 6-5, Safarova rode on the Serb’s poor service and double faults and took the set at 7-5 by breaking her opponent’s service. In the second set, Safarova played better in early exchanges and broke Ivanovic in the third game. The match went on serves until 5-4 but Safarova became a bundle of nerves as she prepared to serve for the match. Now it was Safarova, who committed two double faults that allowed herself to be broken. But the Serb couldn’t keep her rhythm and yielded another break-point to Safarova at 5-5. Safarova was not found wanting as she produced a superb backhand down the line to break Ivanovic’s service and then served out to take match in style at 7-5 7-5.
In the other semifinal, Serena Williams lost the first set 4-6. It was the fourth time that Serena had lost the first set in the tournament. Bacsinszky made a strong start even as Serena kept coughing and spluttering in between points. The Swiss broke the top seed in the fifth game with a brilliant drop-shot followed by an intelligently executed lob. After winning the first set at 6-4, Bacsinszky continued the momentum in the second set despite the American digging deep. The Swiss clinched a break point to lead at 3-2 and Serena was in trouble. From somewhere in the heaven, Serena found her rhythm and began her dominance. She won four games in a row and took the second set 6-3 even as Bacsinszky’s faultless hitting began to show cracks. With the issue going to the decider, the 19-time grand slam champion came into her own and didn’t allow a single game to the Swiss to win at 4-6, 6-3, 6-0. Now Serena has only Safarova to deal with for her 20th Grand Slam victory.