Ana Ivanovic outlasted Maria Sharapova in a nailbiting three-set semifinal match at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati on Saturday. Ivanovic will face Serena Williams in the final on Sunday. The victor in the final will become a first-time winner in Cincinnati.
Ivanovic stormed in the first part of the match, going up to a 6-2, 4-0 lead but Sharapova had found her way back in contention and forced a decider after sealing the second set 7-5. In the third set, Sharapova served for the match at 5-4 but Ivanovic would go on to save two match points and broke Sharapova’s servce just in time to complete a 6-2, 5-7, 7-5 win.
“I really got a little tight,” Ivanovic revealed about losing the second set despite the lead. “I wasn’t moving my feet forward enough and played a little passive. But she’s a champion and was fighting so well.
“I just had to regroup in the third set, and I’m so glad I could win this match tonight.”
Ivanovic is already guaranteed to rise from number 11 to number 9 on Monday’s rankings. She will go as high as number 8 with a title win. Serena Williams will remain world number one regardless of the results. The American also sealed the win at the US Open Series standings, the first WTA star to win this three times.
“For me, the most important thing is recovery for tomorrow and trying to be fresh,” Ivanovic said. “It’s going to be a great match, I think. We played three times this year already.
“I think it’s going to be a great test for me as well to play against Serena. She’s the No.1 player in the world and she’s a great champion, so I think it’s going to be a good match. I hope it goes well.”