Roland Garros Day 12, SF Match Preview: Lucie Safarova v Ana Ivanovic

Ana IvanovicThe first of the women’s semi-finals at Roland Garros on Thursday will be contested between Ana Ivanovic and Lucie Safarova… !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is a surprising, yet in equal portions, compelling semi-final. I’m so excited for Lucie. I never expected her to do so well this fortnight. Pre-Paris, Safarova reached the quarter-finals of Madrid and the second round of Rome. Both tournaments ended with tough three set losses. In Madrid, Safarova had two match points against Svetlana Kuznetsova but lost out in a gripping match, 7-6(3) in the third set tiebreak. Her match against Alexandra Dulgheru in Rome also finished in a third set tiebreak although this time, it was Lucie who managed to prolong it, saving a string of match points before eventually losing.

Like her run to the semi-finals of Wimbledon last year, Lucie hasn’t dropped a set. Her tiebreak record had been poor this year (6-13) but at RG, she is 5-0! Furthermore, Lucie’s draw has been tough as nails. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the first round is about as difficult as they come for a first round match at a Slam with Pavs normally a seeded player and also, the fact that they are good friends. After Pavs, Lucie has overcome Kurumi Nara, Sabine Lisicki, Maria Sharapova and Garbine Muguruza. I don’t think anyone can deny that she has earnt her place in the semi-finals with that route.

In the quarter-finals, Lucie beat Garbine Muguruza, 7-6(3) 6-3. I was in an all-day meeting so missed the match. I had pre-instructed my brother (we work at the same place) to follow the match. I had told him i’m going to look at you and I want to know the result with your face. I was fearing the worst but when I looked over he gave me the big grin! After watching the match back, I was a little taken aback by how well Lucie played. In the first set (which was superb), Lucie twice held with scoreboard pressure and then played another flawless tiebreak. She’s sticking in rallies so well this week and finding the right ball to attack on. The pair played a magnificent 26-shot rally at 2-1 in the tiebreak which Lucie won with a terrific running backhand down-the-line. Lucie didn’t let up in the second set, getting the break at 3-3 and holding off break points to hold onto it. Serving for matches has always been shaky… Lucie served out to 15.

I was melting at the celebrations.

IMG_0585 IMG_0584

Equally, this run from Ana Ivanovic has come as a surprise. The Serb suffered tough three set losses in Madrid and Rome to Carla Suarez Navarro and Daria Gavrilova respectively. Ivanovic came from a set down in her first two matches at Roland Garros, but has played some excellent tennis. In the fourth round, she went three sets with Ekaterina Makarova but powered through the decider. It was a high quality match and Ana’s first top 10 victory of 2015. In the quarters, Ivanovic had a beautiful draw playing Elina Svitolina. Ivanovic led the head-to-head 6-0 and she played a perfect match, winning 6-3 6-2. She maintained an aggressive gameplan throughout, hitting 37 winners to 30 unforced errors. It paid off against a player like Svitolina who is more defensively minded. Cheered on by her camp which includes Bastian Schweinsteiger, things seem to be rolling along just fine for Ana.

Lucie leads the head-to-head with Ana 5-3; between 2009 and 2014, Lucie won five straight matches, including the last four of those all in straight sets. This included a 6-3 6-3 victory at Roland Garros last year in the third round. However, Ana turned the tables in their most recent match in Tokyo. Ana won the quarter-final, 6-3 6-2 and went onto win the title in Tokyo in what was one of her most impressive weeks of 2014. This has always been a match-up that has favoured Lucie with her strength (the lefty serve and forehand) going to Ana’s weakness (the backhand).

So who’s going to win… ahhhhhhhhhh! Ivanovic hasn’t been in this position at a Grand Slam since winning back in 2008. Safarova reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon last year where she coped  with the occasion well, going down in two tight sets to Petra Kvitova. I have so many thoughts swirling around my head. I think this will be over in two sets and whoever wins the opener will prevail in straights. Nerves are always a concern but Lucie has been powering through this week and dealing with tight situations so impressively. I honestly believe that Lucie can do this.

Prediction: Safarova d. Ivanovic in 2 tight sets

Photo in this post by Jimmie48 Tennis Photography and screencaps from British Eurosport coverage

38 thoughts on “Roland Garros Day 12, SF Match Preview: Lucie Safarova v Ana Ivanovic

  1. Lucie Safarova and Mattek-Sands just beat the No.1 seeds Mirza and Hingis in doubles. This is turning out to be a great tournament for Lucie!


      • James you are right. Ana won’t get that many balls on her forehand. She is playing a lefty who will be sending deep angle cross-court to her backhand. Also, Lucie’s bigger game will not allow her to whack the balls like she played with Makarova.


  2. Going for an upset since I feel when you are a big favourite to win in women’s tennis bizarre things are bound to happen. Lucie is a big favourite on this lovely website and elsewhere in punting world but I guess my fav (Ana) can take in three sets if she serves well.


    • Yes, there are Lucie fans, but I noticed for the quarter-finals that many were backing Muguruza to win the quarter-final so i’m sure you won’t be in the minority going for Ivanovic, Vivek. I haven’t looked at the odds or anything but I would have imagined Ana would be the slight favourite.


      • No lucie is favourite marginally ; I think serena lucie final due to 8-0 h t h record of Serena and Serena easy 20th gs win with third French open leaving her 2 behind Graf and chance to try and do it with calendar Grand Slam though that is difficult


      • Also heard that Lucie was the favourite, mostly because of the H2H record (5-3), her vin over Ana last year and her lefty forehand. But truth is that everything can happen, Ana has more experience of a GS. Lucie is very solid in this French Open. I’m fully on her side and no matter what, I’m extremely proud of what she showed in Paris.


    • Not really true, mostly the same players win grand slam over and over. Anna, Stoufer, Bartoli and Schiavone have been 1 slam wonders. So predictions are right when it comes to players with multiple slams.


    • Frankly speaking, Timi may win it all if she manages to reach the final. The “IF” is extremely big for anyone to face Serena. It is not impossible but it is just tough when Serena smells the trophy.


  3. I have been impressed with Lucie with her wins over Maria and Garbine,she has been going for her shots at the right time,on clay which is a must,being patient,she has also fought off BPs,both ladies have good solid fhands,Ana’s serve at times can let her down,Lucie’s 2nd serve at times can also let her down.I feel Lucie has to attack the bhand wing of Ana.I also feel Lucie is now playing with more confidence.Lucie to defeat Ana and make the final of Roland Garos.


  4. This is am intriguing match and both are worthy of making the final. Great personalities and unique games. Even though Ana has beaten Serena before, I think Lucie will give Serena more trouble in the final, especially on clay. We’ll see. Lucie in three. Good luck!!!!


    • Hypothetically, Ana should be checked out long time ago if she played Maria or Garbine like Lucie. How she is still here I don’t know. Grand Slam you need luck, but her luck will end with Lucie’s racquet. If Lucie holds her nerve and emotion well in the semi, Lucie in two!


      • Well we can’t account for Muguruza but Ana has a better h2h against Maria for the past 12 months than anybody except Serena.
        Stop hating on Ivanovic. I hope she wins just so that you can eat your words to be honest…


      • I don’t hate her. Why should I need to hate her. It is about facts. Will you bet against Maria when Ana plays her? Their H2H is 10-4 and Maria won the last two matches in 2014 and 2015. The latest one was in Brisbane.


  5. Hi James! I am officially a Lucie fan now! The way she beat Maria, so inspiring! Sticked to her gameplan with those serves and down the line shots! And she kept that up against Garbine too! I want Lucie to win this do badly, she’s high on confidence now and the train won’t stop chugging! Double POJD for Lucie in both her singles and doubles matches!


  6. Well I know you are all Safarova fans and she was superb today (aside from right at the end) but Ana handed her that match on a silver platter. All she needed to do in that first set was put her first serve in and hold. And she had so many opportunities to get ahead in the second when Safarova was clearly getting tight and instead of getting balls back in she hit them out the courts.


    • It was not an easy match because Lucie was so nervous otherwise it would be finished early. Clearly, Lucie was better and hit harder than Ana. Both played well and only one winner. That is Lucie Safarova. I am very happy.


  7. Has anybody wanted to win anything as badly as Serena does. She really is extraordinary in every sense of the word!
    Props to Bacsinszky though. I think she could make a good run at Wimbledon to be honest.


  8. My calculations Lucie by reaching the final will be ranked No 7,if she wins the final,will be ranked No 6.Well done Lucie!


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