First grand slam win for Ivanovic at French Open (Second lead)By Bill Scott

June 7th, 2008 - 11:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Paris, June 7 (DPA) Ana Ivanovic of Serbia came third time lucky in a run to glory at a grand slam final Saturday, defeating Russia’s Dinara Safina 6-4, 6-3 to win the women’s singles at the French Open after falling to Justine Henin a year ago. The now-retired Belgian was present at the trophy ceremony at Roland Garros after the Serb’s victory in one hour, 38 minutes against an opponent who came to the court with a 12-match win streak on clay.

Seconds after driving a winner at the feet of 13th-seed Safina - younger sister of two-time men’s grand slam winner Marat Safin - to clinch the trophy, the Serb scrambled high into the stands at the Chatrier showcourt to congratulate her team.

“I have not words to describe how I feel,” said Ivanovic, who did not drop a set on her way to the title after losing in Paris in 2007 and against Russia’s Maria Sharapova in the Australian Open final in January.

Ivanovic takes over from Sharapova as number one on the ATP from Monday, a month after Henin stepped away from he game with seven grand slam titles, including four in Paris.

Safina was the last woman to beat Henin, downing her in the Berlin Open third round in May. Henin announced her retirement a few days later.

“I congratulate Ana, she deserved to win it after three finals,” said the Russian. “I spend a lot of time in Monaco but I don’t speak French. But I can say ‘I love Paris.’”

Ivanovic denied Safin the chance of an upset as she ripped to a double-break 4-1 lead in the first set before the Russian had a chance to react.

But Safina did come alive, getting both breaks back during a tearaway patch where she won eight of ten points before levelling a 4-4 with a break in a game where the Serb had stood a comfortable 40-0.

Ivanovic struck back with another break in the ninth game, firing a down-the-line winner. The second seed secured the set after 45 minutes on her second set point as Safina returned long.

The second set quickly became even more competitive, with longer games and more intensity of shotmaking between the pair.

Ivanovic consolidated her lead with a break at love for 3-1 and then saved a break point for 4-2. Safina overcame two double-faults in the seventh game to hold in a long game requiring 20 points to complete.

But Ivanovic then kept her nerve while leading 5-3, breaking the Russian to claim victory and complete her trophy performance over the clay fortnight without dropping a set.

“I’m so happy, this is amazing,” said the 20-year-old winner. “I still can not realise what has happened. We both played with some nerves at the start. I’m just so happy to win in the end.”

The cheerful winner called her loss last year to Henin, 6-1, 6-2, “a great learning experience”.

“Dinara played a great tournament and gave me a tough match today,” said Ivanovic, who broke five times.

Ivanovic said she could have never imagined her success.

“When I was a kid going on my bicycle to practise, I used to dream of this. That makes this win so much more special for me.”

Ivanovic stands 7-3 in career finals, while Safina has six wins and five defeats.

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