Google Down the Line!: PREVIEW: French Open Women's Final

Friday, June 6, 2008

PREVIEW: French Open Women's Final

Ana Ivanovic vs. Dinara Safina
Head-to-head: Ana 2, Dinara 1
Last meeting: Montreal '06 (hard), Ana 6-1, 6-4

I wondered aloud during this year's Aussie Open final preview featuring Maria "Shriek"apova and Ana Ivanovic whether that final was signaling a changing of the guard. Well, with Justine Henin now retired, the Williams sisters booted in the third round, Amelie Mauresmo a shadow of a former champion and new world no. 1 Ana and first time finalist Dinara Safina battling for their first Grand Slam title, I'd say the guard is changed.

How they got here: Ana fought tooth-and-nail against a determined Jelena Jankovic in the best women's match of the fortnight so far. With the no. 1 ranking and a spot in the final on the line, both women produced high-quality tennis with the 20-year old going up a set and a break in the second before her sister Serb won seven straight games to lead in the third set. But Ana hung tough and was the more courageous of the two, going for her blowtorch forehand at every chance and pulling out a thrilling 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 victory.

The second semifinal was thrilling for a different reason: Dinara Safina finally broke through at a major. It's uncomfortable to watch a baller implode the way Svetlana Kuznetsova did, but that's tennis. The Berlin champ played smart, kept her errors down and clinched an easy 6-3, 6-2 win.

The last time Ana + Dinara met was two years ago in the semifinals of Tier 1 Montreal when the Serb took a 6-1, 6-4 decision.

Here's Ana's take on playing Dinara:
Well, I think in past matches [at Roland Garros] I played I had big variety of players, a lot of them being, you know, aggressive, and some very good runners. Dinara is a great fighter, so I expect very, very tough match. I have to, yeah, focus on each point and work on some little points that I can't actually talk about right now. But, you know, I have some game some planning, yeah.
Dinara had this to say about Ana:
Well, definitely you cannot think about her unforced errors, because that's not the way you have to go out there. As I said, I just have to go there and focus on myself, to play my game. It's going to be, again, the one who first start to dominate the point. Because she likes to be aggressive, and I want also to be aggressive. So just the one who is going to be more aggressive and who take the incentive in the point is going to win.
Outlook: These two ballers can hit a ball. I mean they can really hit a ball. So as usual with power ballers it'll come down to who can keep their nerves in check, go for their shots in the key moments and keep those pesky errors down, or at least even with their winners.

Ana has been in two Grand Slam finals and has improved in leaps and bounds since then. But Dinara will have less pressure as the underdog and can swing for the fences. The Serb's movement and defensive skills have been incredibly impressive and her balanced attack will be too much for Dinara to handle.

It'll go the distance but I'm seeing a matching Roland Garros crown for Ana's new no. 1 ranking.

UPDATE: Here are off-court interviews of Ana + Dinara speaking with Barbara Schett and Eurosport about Saturday's big final.

(images via Getty)


  1. It's really exciting to know that someone will win their first!! I'm pulling for Ana would be great with her new number one, and to show she can overcome her fears and nerves from last yet. Either way, should be a great match!


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