Safarova silences Ivanovic to reach first slam final

Thu Jun 4, 2015 1:35pm EDT
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By Pritha Sarkar

PARIS (Reuters) - Lucie Safarova became the first Czech woman in 34 years to reach the French Open final after she fought back to topple 2008 champion Ana Ivanovic 7-5 7-5 on Thursday.

Just when it looked as if her title aspirations were floundering, the 13th seed shook off her jitters and unleashed her A Game to pummel Ivanovic into submission.

"It's a dream come true, I still cannot believe it. The happiness is unreal," said a jubilant Safarova, who will be aiming to become the first Czech to lift the Suzanne Lenglen trophy since Hana Mandlikova in 1981.

With his girlfriend Ivanovic looking unstoppable at 5-2 up in the first set, Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger held up two clenched fists to his face before swinging out his right arm to deliver a knock out punch.

The message from the players' box on Philippe Chatrier Court was clear for all to see -- it was just too bad for Ivanovic that Safarova decided to steal the idea.

The left-handed forehand that had looked rather ordinary during the first seven games suddenly caught fire, helping Safarova to win 20 of the last 26 points in the first set.

Ivanovic's celebratory cries of "hajde", Serbian for 'come on', that had often reverberated around the arena during the first 30 minutes of the contest dried up as Safarova pocketed the first set when the seventh seed slapped a service return long.

However, for a player who was looking to reach her first grand slam final, keeping her nerves in check proved to be a task easier said than done.   Continued...

Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - 4/6/15
Women's Singles - Czech Republic's Lucie Safarova in action during the semi final
Action Images via Reuters / Jason Cairnduff