News & Current Affairs

June 8, 2008

French Open

Filed under: Latest — Tags: , — expressyoureself @ 6:38 am

Ana Ivanovic said the success that she and fellow Serbs Jelena Jankovic and Novak Djokovic have enjoyed helped inspire her to French Open glory.

Courtesy: BBCSPORTS

Ivanovic, who becomes world number one on Monday, beat Jankovic in the last four, while semi-finalist Djokovic won the Australian Open in January.

“Going into today’s final I thought of Novak’s victory earlier this year,” said Ivanovic.

“And I thought, ‘Why not? I can win a title as well.'”

She added: “It’s something that will motivate us and I’m sure he will also reach his goal of being number one one day. He has great potential.

“Jelena, on the other hand, she also is a great girl and I really hope she can achieve her dreams.”

Ivanovic, 20, beat Russia’s Dinara Safina 6-4 6-3 in one hour 38 minutes to take the title at Roland Garros.

The second seed went into the final having lost heavily to Justine Henin at the same stage last year, before also making the Australian Open final in January, while Safina was appearing in her first Grand Slam final.

“Obviously when I was in the court I realised she was nervous,” said Ivanovic. “I try also to look back at the way I felt last year, and it made me more calm because I had those experiences and I went through that.”

And that calm came to the fore when Ivanovic let an early lead slip in the opening set.

“I knew she was a great fighter, and I knew I had to take any chance I had. I had lot of chances in the first set which I didn’t use.

“She came back, and it was 4-4, and it was tough because a lot of emotions build up inside. You knew you had a chance, double break, and then all of a sudden you’re equal again.

“So to keep my composure at that point, it was huge for me.”

After wrapping up the victory, Ivanovic was handed the trophy by Henin herself.

“I was surprised,” admitted Ivanovic. “But at the same time I was glad to see her there. She’s a great champion. She won this tournament so many times.

“When she handed me the trophy, it was a very thrilling moment. She said, ‘Well done, you really deserve it.’ It meant a lot to me.”

And the newly crowned queen of Roland Garros does not plan to stop at one Grand Slam title.

“I feel so happy,” she said. “I have no words to describe that. But winning a Grand Slam is something I dreamt since I was a little kid, so achieving that goal, it’s very thrilling.

“You know, you work so hard and you’re off the court, on the court, and you put so much effort into it. I loved the game and I enjoy playing, so this is the best reward I can get.

“It’s my incentive to keep working hard and win more of these trophies.”

Looking ahead to Wimbledon later this month, she added: “I go there wanting to win a title because every tournament you play you want to win.

“I think I have a good chance. I’ve been working really hard, and this hard work gives results.

“So, next week I have time to relax a little bit, recover, and also prepare on the grass before Eastbourne and Wimbledon.”

Safina admitted that she had run out of gas after a dramatic run to the final that saw her save match points against both Maria Sharapova and Elena Dementieva.

“I was a little nervous before the start but I felt good once I stepped on the court,” said the Russian.

“If I was a little fresher maybe things would have been different. Those comebacks took a lot from me and against Ana you have to be really aggressive. I was missing a little.

“She was fresher and she was doing to me what I wanted to do to her.

“I tried but there wasn’t the fire there any more. I was tired mentally and physically and my heart and body just couldn’t do it.

“But now I have reached a Grand Slam final I will keep working harder because I believe in myself. I’ll be a lot tougher. I am a perfectionist.”

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June 7, 2008

French Open – Federer sets up final clash with Nadal

Federer sets up final clash with Nadal

Highlights: Federer v Monfils

World number one Roger Federer saw off a brave challenge from Gael Monfils to set up a dream final against Rafael Nadal at the French Open.

Federer, who has lost to Nadal in the last two finals, came through 6-2 5-7 6-3 7-5 against Frenchman Monfils.

Nadal earlier swept aside world number three Novak Djokovic 6-4 6-2 7-6 (7-3).

The Spaniard, chasing Bjorn Borg’s mark of four back-to-back titles, was in awesome form as he kept up his unbeaten record at Roland Garros.

It will be a major surprise if Nadal does not make it 28 straight wins on Sunday when he faces Federer for the fourth year running in Paris.

The 22-year-old admitted he had produced a near-perfect performance to see off Djokovic, the form player this season.

“Maybe the way the match turned out today was easier than I expected,” said the three-times champion.

“I was not expecting to play at this level. I was very dominant, I could put the ball anywhere I wanted.

“I was dominating both on my forehand and backhand, and I didn’t think that I could make mistakes. That was key.”

Federer, meanwhile, looked poised for an easy win when he raced through the first set against unseeded Frenchman Monfils, playing in his first Grand Slam semi-final.

However, the top seed appeared to lose focus in the second set, allowing a pumped-up Monfils to level.

But Federer earned an early break of serve in the third set and never really looked like losing his grip on the match.

Monfils had six break points in the fourth set and bravely saved two match points at 4-5 to the delight of a partisan crowd, but Federer eventually closed out victory after three hours five minutes.

“The key was the first game when he allowed me to break and after that he was behind all the time,” said Federer.

“But he held on and battled hard and I am just relieved to have gone through.

“It was hard to play against him. He is such a great talent and now he has shown it on a big stage.”

Monfils blamed a broken contact lens for ending his hopes of becoming the first Frenchman to win the Roland Garros crown for 25 years.

“I couldn’t see well, so I tried to put some eye drops in at the beginning of the match,” said Monfils.

“Then it didn’t work, so I asked the doctor to come on the court. That didn’t work.

“I think part of my contact lens stayed, remained in my eye. I managed to take the other part out, but there was one part left.”

Monfils added: “I am disappointed, there was an opening for me there.”

Djokovic came into his semi-final against Nadal hoping to prove the gap between world number three and two was closing.

But the Serb quickly learned what kind of match he was in for when he was forced to stave off break points in the very first game on Philippe Chatrier.

But it did not take long for Nadal to break at 2-1 on his way to taking the opening set in just under an hour without facing a single break point.

There was more of the same in the second, as the world number two lashed down a series of powerful groundstrokes for a 2-0 lead.

Djokovic carved out his first break chance in the third game, but Nadal snuffed it out with a unreturnable serve and broke again at 4-1 to race to a two-set advantage.

The Spaniard appeared to be cruising to an easy win as he broke twice for a 3-0 lead in the third – but to his credit, Djokovic refused to throw the towel in.

Right at the last, the Serb, who won the Australian Open in January, finally found his form, recovering both breaks and even earning a set point at 6-5.

But Nadal saved it with a wrong-footing forehand and the momentum swung back in his favour in the tiebreak.

The Spaniard chased down every ball and returned it with precision and power to clinch it 7-3, and move one match away from a fourth title on the Roland Garros clay.

“The first two sets were very bad,” admitted Djokovic, who has now lost eight of his 11 meetings with Nadal.

“I had no rhythm and was hitting too many unforced errors. Then I decided to go for my shots and try everything or nothing.

“He showed once again that he is very strong mentally. He’s the best defensive player in the world and plays every point as if it’s match point. The better player won today.”

June 4, 2008

French Open Rafel Nadal and Novak Djokovic will meet in the French Open semi-finals for the second straight year after both won their quarter-finals in straight sets

Rafel Nadal and Novak Djokovic will meet in the French Open semi-finals for the second straight year after both won their quarter-finals in straight sets.

Third seed Djokovic had the tougher test, battling past Latvian teenager Ernests Gulbis 7-5 7-6 (7-3) 7-5.

Defending champion Nadal was in supreme form as he crushed fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 6-1 6-1 6-1.

The victory extended three-time champion Nadal’s lifetime unbeaten record at Roland Garros to 26 matches.

“Before the match I thought it would be tough because Nicolas has a very good serve and forehand but his problem is movement,” said Nadal.

“On centre court, it’s not easy because of the wind and it’s also very big so it’s hard to adapt if you are not used to it.

“But he made a lot of mistakes. I controlled the points and I was feeling the ball better.”

Almagro had been expected to provide the world number two with something of a test, having come into the tournament with more wins on clay this year than any other player.

But Nadal simply brushed him aside with his power and consistency from the baseline, making 47 winners and just nine unforced errors in one hour 44 minutes.

“Now I will face Djokovic and that will be a very tough match,” said Nadal. “I beat him in the Hamburg semi-final but it was close.

“However, I feel as if I am improving and have got better and better.”

Djokovic was not at his ruthless best against Gulbis, with whom he was once a contemporary at the Niki Pilic academy in Munich.

“We knew each other’s game, but we never met officially in the tournaments, so it was a bit tricky for both of us,” said Djokovic.

“I knew that he was going to be aggressive and just go for the shots, so I was trying to be patient, you know, and just try to calm his game down a little bit.”

Third seed Djokovic became increasingly frustrated as he failed to take any of an incredible 11 break points before finally sealing the opening set.

The second set was tighter still, the Serbian coming through in a tie-break as Gulbis showed flashes of brilliance.

And even when victory finally looked assured in the third, Djokovic could not serve out the match at the first opportunity as Gulbis came up with more winners.

The 19-year-old from Riga could not hang on, however, and several errors handed the break straight back to Djokovic, who closed out the match at the second time of asking.

And despite Nadal’s imperious progress, Djokovic remains convinced he can end the Spaniard’s domination of Roland Garros.

“It’s impressive, of course,” said the world number two. “He’s been playing better and better. He improve I think the serve a lot this year, on clay especially, and he’s going for some shots much more.

“He combines that with his great physical strength and then patience, and it’s impressive on this surface.

“But I don’t want to go out there in semis and just try my best. I don’t want to do that.

“I want to win, and I think I have good quality and good chance.”

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