STUTTGART, Germany - Ana Ivanovic kept her mastery over Jelena Jankovic going on Saturday, beating her fellow Serb in straight sets in the semifinals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix to set up a tantalizing final clash with two-time defending champion and fellow former No.1 Maria Sharapova.
Ivanovic and Jankovic's careers have always run parallel - Ivanovic won her only Grand Slam title at the French Open in 2008, Jankovic reached her only Grand Slam final at the US Open in 2008, they both got to No.1 that year, and they've both been a staple in the upper echelon of the game since then as well. But whenever the two have played Ivanovic has had the upper hand - maybe mental, maybe a match-up thing, but the bottom line is that she had won eight of their previous 11 meetings.
The Turning Point
Both players served exceptionally early on in the match, with just one break of serve in the entire first set - but it was Ivanovic who snuck that break out for 3-1, and the two went back into a holding pattern the rest of the set until Ivanovic had that opening frame tucked away in just 27 minutes, 6-3.
The second set was far more dramatic. The No.5-seeded Jankovic broke in the second game for 2-0, but Ivanovic broke back right away and the two were on serve again for almost half an hour - it wasn't until 5-all when Ivanovic struck again, breaking serve and getting the chance to serve out the match.
The best tennis was saved for last. Trying to serve it out, Ivanovic built a 40-15 lead and double match point - but Jankovic fought them both off, even fighting off a third match point with a fantastic backhand reaction after a long rally and an Ivanovic get that dribbled over the net cord. But it was fourth time lucky for the No.9-seeded Ivanovic, who finally won the match on her fourth match point, 63 75.
By The Numbers
Ivanovic didn't just produce more winners than Jankovic during the match, she also produced fewer unforced errors. She hit five more winners - 18 to 13 - and nine less unforced errors - 21 to 30. It was a great day at the net for Jankovic though, as she won 13 of 16 forays into the forecourt (compared to 7 of 13 for Ivanovic) but at the end of the day, Ivanovic was just too good from the baseline.
"I'm definitely relieved," Ivanovic said. "The last game was a little bit of a drama. When she saved that match point when my ball hit the net cord, that was just an amazing point. But it was a great way to finish the match. I really tried to step in on the tight situations at the end - that's my game."
Earlier in the day, No.6 seed Maria Sharapova cruised past No.8 seed Sara Errani, 61 62, to get within one win of her third straight Porsche Tennis Grand Prix title (read more here). Sharapova has never won a WTA tournament three times before, let alone three times in a row. She's 12-0 in Stuttgart now.
"It's definitely going to be a very tough match - I don't think she's ever lost a match here," Ivanovic said. "She loves this tournament, and hopefully it will be a great match like we had here last year."
Sharapova leads Ivanovic in their head-to-head series, 7-2, and has has won their last six meetings in a row - and the last three of their meetings have all come on clay. But in their only previous meeting here, which Ivanovic alluded to, they went the absolute distance in last year's quarterfinals.