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Sharapova to play Ivanovic in Aus Open final
January 24, 2008 09:47 IST
Last Updated: January 24, 2008 13:38 IST
Maria Sharapova [Images] and Ana Ivanovic will meet in the Australian Open final after contrasting victories in their semi-finals on Thursday.
Russian Sharapova, seeded fifth, demolished Serb Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 6-1, while Serbian fourth seed Ivanovic recovered from a first-set whitewash to oust Daniela Hantuchova [Images] 0-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Ivanovic won just nine points in the first set and trailed 6-0, 2-0 before pulling things around.
"If it wasn't for you guys I would be booking my flight home," she told the crowd.
Men's second seed Rafael Nadal [Images] faces unseeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the first men's semi-final in the night match. Roger Federer [Images] and Novak Djokovic clash in the second semi on Friday.
Sharapova followed on from her quarter-final thrashing of world number one Justine Henin [Images] with a devastating display against third seed Jankovic.
Pounding groundstrokes into the corners and blasting serves down, she never allowed the Serb to settle on Rod Laver Arena.
The roof of the court was closed to keep the Melbourne showers out and Sharapova's shots boomed throughout the arena.
Jankovic, struggling with a lower back injury, was unable to keep up or even compete as she was left watching shots fly past her.
"I wanted to withdraw, but it was not fair for the crowd. It's a semi-final, so I played how much I could to finish the match," Jankovic said.
"I thought that Maria played very, very well, and anyway, she deserved to win. But I couldn't really give a match."
For Sharapova there is unfinished business in Melbourne after last year's final defeat.
"From the beginning of the tournament, you want to go a step further than you've done in the past. That's always your goal, and your mantra going into a tournament," the Russian told reporters.
"In a Grand Slam where I've had good success but some tough endings as well, I still believe at the end of the day I'll always have more opportunities."
Ivanovic had looked finished when her Slovak opponent swept through the first set and broke early in the second.
Seemingly frozen with nerves, the fourth seed kept pounding away at her groundstrokes, however, and finally they began to pay off as Hantuchova's standard slipped.
She reeled her opponent in and finally sealed what had seemed an unlikely victory in two hours 10 minutes.