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SUPER SAFAROVA INTO FIRST MAJOR FINAL

2015-6-5


PARIS, France - Lucie Safarova rebounded from a slow start and held off an inspired fightback from Ana Ivanovic in the second set to reach the first Grand Slam final of her career at the French Open.

Ivanovic, who went all the way to the title here in 2008, came out stronger, her huge forehand in full flow as she stormed out to a 3-0 lead in the first set, and she kept her nose in front - 4-1, even 5-2.

But a mid-match surge from Safarova, winning eight of the next nine games, put her ahead a set and a break, 7-5, 3-1, and a few games later she found herself serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set.

It was a pivotal game - she had a match point, double faulting, and she fought off three break points, but with a backhand that clipped the tape and sailed wide, Ivanovic had the break back for 5-all.

But there was one last swing as the No.13-seeded Safarova broke then held to close out the No.7-seeded Ivanovic after an hour and 52 minutes, 7-5, 7-5, rifling one last forehand winner on match point.

It was the Czech's 36th winner of the match, exactly 18 of those coming off that forehand wing.

"I started a little bit slower in the match and wasn't swinging as much as I should. I was a little slow on my feet," Safarova said. "Ana was playing well right away and going for her shots, too, but I slowly started getting into the rhythm, into the game. Then right away I took the set, took the momentum.

"In the second set, when I realized I could finally be in the finals, I got a little bit tense there. And the game at 5-4, I was really overthinking and couldn't really concentrate to be there in that moment.

"But when I lost serve, I shook it off and started to play aggressive again, and I served it out."

She was also asked if being in her first Grand Slam final had sunken in yet.

"Not yet," she said. "It's slowly sinking in and it's just amazing. The happiness is unreal."

And how much sweeter is it given it's been over a decade since she went pro?

"It's my 12th year on tour, and to reach this finally, you appreciate it much more, I think."

Before this, Safarova's best Grand Slam result was a semifinal at Wimbledon last year, falling to Petra Kvitova, whom she will join in the Top 10 come Monday - it will be the first time two Czech women will be in the Top 10 together since October 1989 (when Helena Sukova and Jana Novotna were there).

Awaiting Safarova in the final will be No.1 seed Serena Williams, who rallied from a set and a break down to end the fairytale run of No.23 seed Timea Bacsinszky in the other semifinal.



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