In a more competitive match than the 6-4, 6-3 score would suggest, Ana Ivanovic defeated the terrific Dinara Safina to win her first grand-slam title. Two days earlier she had become the world’s number 1 women’s tennis player after beating her fellow Serbian countrywoman Jelena Jankovic in the semi-finals.
Safina played well, but not well enough. Not unlike her brother, her emotions too often got in the way. In her round of 16 and quarterfinal matches against Dementieva and Kuznetsova, she had come back from being a set and match-point down to prevail. Ivanovic was too good for this to work a third time.
Ivanovic’s shots were strong and accurate. She played one of her best-ever matches, convincingly solid and steady throughout. She didn’t show any of the nervousness that kept her from winning the final against Sharapova at the 2008 Aussie Open and the final against Henin at the 2007 French Open. She’s come a long way from learning tennis in a war-torn Belgrade swimming pool.
Gone Too Soon
Henin won 4 of the last 5 French Opens. Five years ago both she and fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters were playing in this final. Now they are both retired. As Tim Robinson aptly asked, can you imagine seeing Nadal just sitting there and watching next year?
Nonetheless, it was touching to see her congratulating the winners and handing out the trophies – particularly since Safina beat Henin in her final professional match just a few weeks ago in Berlin.
Fitness Making the Difference
One of my complaints about the women’s game is that too few women’s players take fitness and conditioning as serious as the men’s field. As you can see from the photos below, this was not the case for either of Ivanovic or Safina today. No doubt their fitness played a significant part in their getting so far.
These pictures aptly demonstrate that women can be fit and feminine at the same time. I hope more of the women follow this lead. The women’s game needs to be elevated with better fitness, conditioning and stamina in order to be as compelling to watch as the men’s game. Ivanovic and Safina have proven it can be done.