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Sports

French Open: Williams to face Safarova in Women's final

Despite losing the first set of her semifinal on Thursday, Serena Williams overcame Timea Bacsinszky to seal a final place at Roland Garros. Williams will face Lucie Safarova, who beat Ana Ivanovic earlier in the day.

Serena Williams and Lucie Safarova will meet in the French Open final at Roland Garros on Saturday. Williams and Safarova overcame Timea Bacsinszky and Ana Ivanovic respectively in their semifinals on Thursday.

An ill Williams, 33, was dragging herself around the court throughout the second semifinal match on Thursday, as heats soared to 30 celsius (85 degrees) on the hottest day of the tournament so far. After losing her serve in the fifth game, Williams sat down with an ice towel around her neck and was using another to pat her forehead.

After holding for 5-4, Williams sat down and appeared in a state of confusion as she asked the umpire: "It's not the set is it? Because they're sweeping the lines." She then pressed a towel hard against her forehead and appeared close to tears. Bacsinszky, playing in her first ever Grand Slam semifinal, took advantage and won the first set 6-4.

Williams looked in trouble at the start of the second set as she trailed 3-2 after dropping her serve. But she twice broke the 23rd seeded Bacsinszky, and served out the second set. Seeking her 20th Grand Slam title and her third at Roland Garros, Williams would not let her struggles get the better of her in the deciding set. In the end, the American cruised to a 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 victory winning the final ten games of the match.

"I tried everything. I thought if I lose, I will lose with a fight," Williams told the crowd in French afterward. "I tried, I tried. I found the energy. I don't know where, but I found it. And I won. I hope that on Saturday, I hope ..."

Safarova stuns struggling Ivanovic

Earlier in the day, Lucie Safarova dominated her semifinal against 7th seed Ana Ivanovic and clinched a final place with a 7-5, 7-5 victory. The 13th-seeded Czech player, who upset defending champion Maria Sharapova in the fourth round, has not dropped a set in the tournament.

Ivanovic, playing in her first Grand Slam semfinal since winning the French Open seven years ago, started superbly taking a 5-2 first set lead. However something ticked for Safarova. The Czech broke in the ninth and 11th games as Ivanovic's confidence faded away after two doubles faults to trail 5-6, before Safarova served out the set with an ace.

The second set produced some drama, as Safarova's understandable nerves came into play as she served for the win leading a set and 5-4. The game lasted for nearly 10 minutes with Ivanovic saving a match point and breaking for 5-5. But the Czech, who had never been past the fourth round before at Rolland Garros, recovered in the next game to break and concluded the win in under two hours on her third match point.

"This is a dream come true, I still cannot believe it," said Safarova, who reached the Saturday title match without the loss of a set. "I started a bit slowly, so I had to keep up my level by playing aggressively. It was the only way to get this win. This is all just unbelievable."

Safarova will face Williams in the single's final on Saturday. Friday sees the Men's single's semfinals take place as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga faces Stan Wawrinka, before Andy Murray face Novak Djokovic.

Elswhere on Thursday, Mike Bryan and Bethanie Mattek-Sands won the mixed double's title, beating Lucie Hradecka and Martin Matkowski 7-6 (3), 6-1.

apc (AFP, AP)