French Open: Safarova Holds Off Ivanovic And Her Nerves For First Major Finals Appearance

In the first French Open women's semifinal, it was a matchup between seventh-seeded Serbian Ana Ivanovic against thirteenth-seeded Czech Lucie Safarova. These women took advantage of the wide open bottom half of the draw to get here as Maria Sharapova (defeated by Safarova), Carla Suarez Navarro, and Simona Halep were all knocked out before. For Safarova, this was her first ever French Open semifinal and her second career Grand Slam semifinal after making it to the semifinals of Wimbledon last year. For the Serb, this was her first Grand Slam semifinal since the 2008 French Open, the year she took it all.

In the opening set, Ivanovic came out with a swagger and confidence about her that we definitely haven't seen since around 07-08. She flew out to a 3-0 lead with an early break on the Czech as it was clear the semifinal nerves were once again kicking in for her. Both women held comfortably as Safarova finally got on the board. The Czech was once again put under pressure going from 30-0 up as the Serb looked for a second break, but Safarova would hold for 4-2. The 13th seed would apply some pressure on the Ivanovic serve now as she battled to deuce to try and get the break back, but Ivanovic held her off to move within a game of the set. After that, it all fell apart for Ivanovic and started clicking for the Czech lefty. Safarova would hold for 3-5 as she began to find her backhand in that game with a couple of winners and would clinch the break for 4-5 with an emphatic putaway at the net. She would hold comfortably for five-all as the pressure would hit the Serb with two double faults as Safarova broke for 6-5. The 13th seed would close at the set finding the rhythm she's had all tournament long with a love hold

In Safarova's opening service game, she was put under pressure right away as the Serb had break chances, but four aces in the game helped her avoid the break. As we looked on, the Ivanovic ball toss was getting lower and lower and moving more and more to the right. That was key as she feel down 0-40, and the 13th seed would get the break. The Czech continued to dictate well as she continued to hit to the Ivanovic backhand and would consolidate the break for 3-1. The Serb was once again put under pressure by the Czech but a clean backhand winner kept her in the match. In what could have been the turning point, the Czech was anxious on a second serve break point and hit it well long. The sixth game was described my ESPN's Patrick McEnroe had the best description about the game as he said, "This is a comedy of errors." It was a clear dip in play for both women, but Safarova would hold after another Ivanovic unforced error.

Despite the struggles, Safarova showed off her relentlessness in the eighth game to move within a game of her first final. Safarova was forced to serve for the match after Ivanovic held, and this was a highly dramatic game. Safarova double faulted three times, once on match point, and Ivanovic dumped multiple forehands into the net, however, the Serb would break for five-all. The 7th seed would get broken again however to allow Safarova to serve out for the match once again. The Serb would save one match point on the Safarova serve, but a forehand winner on her third match point clinched her spot into the final. Saturday will be her first major final at 28 years old in 41 total appearances and faces the winner of Serena Williams and Timea Bacsinszky

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