Henin, Ivanovic in final

Paris, June 7:

Justine Henin stayed on track for her third straight French Open title by beating Jelena Jankovic 6-2, 6-2 in the semi-finals on Thursday.

The Belgian player will become the first woman to win three consecutive titles at Roland Garros since Monica Seles in 1990-92

if she beats seventh-seeded Ana Ivanovic in Saturday’s final. Ivanovic advanced to her first Grand Slam final by beating Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-1.

Henin improved to 6-0 against Jankovic head-to-head, including a win in the semi-finals of last year’s US Open. But it was the first time the Serb had lost in straight sets to Henin — who also won here in 2003.

Jankovic rallied midway through the second set, and Henin had to save a break point before moving 5-2 up. Jankovic double-faulted to go 15-40 down on her serve and give Henin two match points.

She clinched victory at the first attempt when Jankovic’s forehand sailed long. Henin clenched her fist and blew a kiss to the crowd. In their only previous meeting two years ago, Henin beat Ivanovic in straight sets on clay in Warsaw, Poland.

Ivanovic easily beat Sharapova. Ivanovic neutralised Sharapova’s hitting power by keeping her on the run. Sharapova’s defeat was reminiscent of her 6-1, 6-2 loss to Serena Williams in the Australian Open final in January.

The Russian was looking to reach her third consecutive final in a major after winning last year’s US Open. But her performance was riddled with unforced errors and five double-faults, and lasted little more than an hour on center court. Playing in her first French Open semi-

final, Sharapova struggled to chase down Ivanovic’s pinpoint strokes.