Champion Henin spoils Serbian party - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Champion Henin spoils Serbian party

By Pritha Sarkar 08/06/2007 05:28:59 AM Comments (0)

Bristling with determination, Justine Henin gatecrashed the Serbian party at the French Open to set up a final date with Ana Ivanovic.

Jelena Jankovic and Ivanovic had dazzled their opponents over the past fortnight and had been hoping to set up a historic all-Serbian grand slam final at Roland Garros.

After Ivanovic kept up her part of the deal with a ruthless 6-2 6-1 destruction of Maria Sharapova, champion Henin played dream wrecker when she ended Jankovic's run with an almost equally rampant 6-2 6-2 performance.

"It was perfect," was the Belgian top seed's verdict.

"I just hope I can keep going to the end this way."

For the second time in three years, only seven games in total were dropped in the two semis, leaving the losers shell-shocked and despondent.

"I started off slow and the train's already gone," Sharapova concluded as she tossed aside her blonde pony-tail.

Henin charged into her third successive showpiece match in the French capital and is now only two sets away from emulating Monica Seles' hat-trick of titles achieved in 1992.

Ominously for Ivanovic, she will have to find a way to break the iron will of a woman who has now pocketed 33 consecutive sets at the claycourt grand slam.

Sharapova has never felt comfortable on the slowest of all tennis surfaces and likened her movement on red dirt to "a cow on ice". On Thursday it took Ivanovic 65 brutal minutes to send the Russian skidding out of the tournament.

The world number two had contested the last two grand slam finals, emerging victorious at the US Open. Yet she had never reached a claycourt final and her luck was not about to change.

Sharapova had hoped that her big-match experience would give her an edge in her ninth major semi. Ivanovic was in her first.

But after fitting in countless training sessions at 7am in a converted swimming pool during the 1999 NATO bombings in Belgrade, Ivanovic was ready to reap the benefits.

"It's my first grand slam final, so it's hard not to get overexcited," Ivanovic said after becoming the first athlete representing Serbia to reach a grand slam final.

"It was tough times... I grew up playing in an emptied swimming pool... and now I have chance to play against one of the top players."

The Serbian wasted little time in soaking up the atmosphere on the Philippe Chatrier arena and it was not long before the match started to slip away from an error-prone Sharapova.

After the one-sided nature of the first match, fans had hoped for a tighter tussle between Henin and Jankovic as each of their previous five encounters had gone the distance.

But the fourth seed was a forlorn spectator for most of the contest as Henin produced a series of breathtaking backhands to take her perfect record against Jankovic to 6-0.

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