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04 Jun 2008 11:06
It’s Serb against Serb in the women’s semifinals at the French Open on Thursday, the first time that has happened, for either of the sexes, in Grand Slam history.
Second seed Ana Ivanovic will start as favourite against third seed Jelena Jankovic.
The winner will be one match away from delivering a first female Grand Slam title to the Balkan country, hard on the heels of compatriot Novak Dkojovic’s landmark win for the men at the Australian Open in January.
Ivanovic defeated Swiss veteran Patty Schnyder 6-3, 6-2 in her quarterfinal, while Jankovic powered past Spanish qualifier Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3, 6-2.
The more powerful Ivanovic is the younger at 20 and will be bidding for a third Grand Slam final in the past year, having lost to Justine Henin here last year and to Maria Sharapova in the Australian Open in January.
Jankovic, at 23, has yet to make a Major final, but she will be playing in her fourth Grand Slam semifinal and she has experience and probably mental fortitude on her side.
The two, surprisingly, are not that close having gone down different paths to get to the top.
“Obviously, we come from the same country, so we know each other for a long time,” said Ivanovic, who will take over from Maria Sharapova as world number one should she win the title.
“When she was younger she went to America and I went to Switzerland, so we didn’t really have the chance to practice together or to hang out much.
“Now, you know, travelling, she has her own team and I have my own team. We don’t just hang out.”
The two Belgrade-born players have met six times, with Ivanovic winning five of them, but it will be their first meeting in a Grand Slam tournament.
Jankovic, who has been struggling with tendonitis in her right arm and shoulder brought on, she says, by the heavy balls in use at Roland Garros this year, has no doubt that her rivalry with Ivanovic is set to last.
“I think we’re going to be dominating this tennis world soon,” she said.
“We’re going to be at the top, so it will be one of us will reach number one soon, and then it will be depend on who is in the form for the rest of the year.
“It’s great for Serbian tennis and for the whole world to have new faces, to have new players, and great rivalries.
“We will try to compete against each other the best as possible.
We push each other and we motivate each other to be better players for sure.”
Ivanovic has the bigger game and power to dominate her older compatriot, but Jankovic is one of the toughest players on the circuit and she will be fully aware that there remains a question mark over her opponent’s ability to control her nerves.
In last year’s final she broke Henin’s serve in the opening game of the match and was 40-0 in the following game when one dodgy ball toss turned her into a bundle of nerves.
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