For the first time in its 107-year-long history, the Roland Garros French Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Paris will see two Russians, Anastasia Myskina and Elena Dementyeva, playing out the women's final match.
Both Russian players are the first-time Grand Slam finalists, and they regard their success at the French Open as the greatest achievement in their tennis careers.
On her path to the final, Myskina, currently Russia's No. 1 tennis player, beat Denisa Khladkova and Barbora Strykova (both of the Czech Republic, Alicia Molik (Australia), Venus Williams and Jennifer Capriati (both of the USA).
On her part, Dementyeva, sidelined Mervana Jukic-Salkic (Serbia-Montenegro), Nicole Pratt (Australia), Anna Smashnova-Pistolesi (Israel), Lindsey Davenport (USA) and Paola Suarez (Argentina).
Dementyeva and Myskina have played each other eight times in official tournaments to date, each scoring four wins apiece.
It was Dementyeva who prevailed (2-6, 6-1, 6-1) in their last match at the Toronto Open in 2003.
Currently, Myskina and Dementyeva are holding the 5th and 10th place on the WTA ranking list respectively. Anastasia has won seven professional tournaments to date, with Yelena having scored just three such trophies.
The two Russians displayed a solid level of tennis, progressing from game to game.
The well-known British `William Hill` betting agency leans somewhat in favor of Myskina, taking bets on the ratio of 1.53 for Anastasia and 2.37 for Yelena.
The winner in the Roland Garros women's finals will get 838,500 euros in prize money, with the runner-up claiming a cheque of half of that sum. In addition, both Myskina and Dementyeva are very likely to improve their standings on the WTA ranking list after the final.
Exactly 30 years ago, another Russian, Olga Morozova, also played in a Grand Slam final. She lost the match to the legendary American, Chris Evert (1-6, 2-6). Today, Morozova is Dementyeva's coach. They started to cooperate quite recently yet the results of their joint work were not long in coming forth.
The Roland Garros women's final will be held at the tournament's main arena, the Philippe Chatrier court, on Saturday at 5 p. m. Moscow time.
The men's final pitting two Argentines, Gaston Gaudio and Guilliermo Coria, will take place on Sunday, June 6. The former had little problems in overcoming another Argentine player, David Nalbandyan in the semi-finals, the latter beat Tim Henman of the United Kingdom, a 29-year-old tennis veteran, who made his younger opponent sweat a lot on the tournament's central court on Friday. The Briton easily won the first set (6-3) and led 4-2 in the second when all of a sudden his first serve failed him and he began to lose his nerve. As a result, he lost 14 (!) straight games, ceding not only the second set (4-6) but also the third (0-6) and three consecutive games in the forth. When the match seemed to be rolling toward its logical end, the Briton suddenly rallied, rediscovered his trademark style, and shook Coria by winning the next five games straight. He stopped just a step short of victory in the set. Yet, as the odds had it, he failed to make that step - Coria again managed to take control of the match and, mostly thanks to a multitude of his opponent's unforced errors, won the next four games, the set and the match. Experts are betting on him as the most likely winner in the final match against Gaston Gaudio.