Serb tennis stars sweep to desert duopoly

March 24th, 2008 - 12:45 pm ICT by admin  

Indian Wells (California), March 24 (DPA) Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic completed the first-ever Serbian tournament title sweep as both pulled off victories at the Indian Wells Masters. Buoyed by clusters of noisy, flag-waving compatriots perched in the upper reaches of the stadium, the pair of 20-year-olds notched another landmark day in their young nation’s fast-rising tennis culture here Sunday.

Third seed Djokovic climbed to within striking distance of world No.2 Rafael Nadal with a hard-fought 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 win over American outsider Mardy Fish.

Ivanovic, No.1 seed on the women’s side of the draw, earned her first title of the season with a 6-4, 6-3 defeat of Svetlana Kuznetsova.

“It’s a great victory for me, we always have tough matches,” said Australian Open finalist Ivanovic.

“Our previous matches we both started nervously. But today I think we both played good tennis from first point on, I was really happy with that,” she said.

Ivanovic pounded 30 winners and broke four times on the way to the sixth title of her career as she left Kuznetsova again cursing her luck.

On the men’s side, Fish stayed cool under fire a day after the unfancied number 98 had shocked Roger Federer in straight sets.

The American lost the opening set on a late break but fought back from a break down in the second as nerves began to play on Djokovic.

The Serb was then broken twice as Fish levelled the contest, but the shaky Djokovic finally pulled away to victory in the concluding set.

“I was really really nervous,” said Djokovic. “I didn’t stay calm at all when I needed to and I swore too much. It was bad behaviour. I think I was feeling the pressure of being the favourite. But something in this desert keeps me going year after year,” he said.

Djokovic tallied 10 aces, winning five of six break points. Last year’s losing finalist to Nadal next moves on to Miami, where he will defend the title.

Ivanovic later explained that fellow Serbs may still need to learn the finer points of the game after some shouted between points or during serve, which drew a warning from the chair umpire.

“People don’t understand, but it affects both players,” said Ivanovic. “I really wanted to apologise, because it’s not my fault.

The win was the fifth from six meetings for Ivanovic, who will remain world number two behind Belgian Justine Henin, with another major in Miami looming at the end of the week.

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