Ana Czechs Benesova’s progress

Ana Czechs Benesova’s progress

Ana reached the third round of the Nasdaq-100 Open with a hard fought victory over world No.43 Iveta Benesova. She triumphed 7-6, 3-6, 6-2 in a tense encounter that lasted one hour and 56 minutes.

“I was really happy that I could stay focused and win,” said Ana. “Even if the score had been different I was really happy with the way I played. I was attacking a lot and I felt the ball very good.”

The match began at a remarkable pace as both players dominated on serve. In fact, the first 14 points were all won on serve and the first six games were completed in a frantic 14 minutes. “I think that serve was very important,” Ana said.

The 18-year-old, who wore her red and white two-piece adidas outfit, began the seventh game with a double fault and an unforced error, which aided the Czech and she achieved the first break of the match.

23 year-old Benesova’s first serve percentage was a sky-high 85 during her opening three games and she had lost just one point on her serve. However, Ana began to press and a crushing forehand drive got the teenager to 15-30. The Serbian then stepped to her left and unleashed an equally bombastic backhand drive that flew past her opponent. Benesova saved both break points but Ana earned a third and sealed it thanks largely to some good defensive play.

Despite Ana gaining her first break, there was little to separate the two players. Benesova was doing damage with her crosscourt topspin forehand that, because she is left-handed, was hit to Ana’s backhand.

“It’s definitely more difficult to play left-handers because you’re used to playing much more against right-handed players,” said Ana, echoing the views of most players. “But as a professional athlete you must adapt to all players. The serve was strange – it was coming to from angles, completely different directions.”

Ana could well have done with the use of Hawk-Eye, the electronic line calling system (it is only installed on the main Stadium court here. Click here for more information) in the next game when she queried a line call. She recomposed herself and served out to lead 5-4. Though she then spurned two set points she eventually took the opener on a tiebreak, winning it 7-1.

However, Ana’s first serve percentage dropped to a lowly 38 per cent in the second set and Bensova capitalised, winning it 6-3. “My serve went a little bit down in the second set,” conceded Ana.

When Benesova broke at the beginning of the deciding set Ana looked to be in trouble but she reeled off three straight games to lead 3-1. The Czech broke back but Ana again broke to love in the next game courtesy of a deft drop-volley and some deep, punishing groundstrokes.

The Serbian, stepping into the court to pile pressure on her opponent’s second serves, added another break to seal victory, hitting a forehand service return winner on match point before turning to her mother and coach to celebrate.

“I started feeling the ball much better in the third set,” said Ana. “I was moving really well. I’m really pleased with this.”

By Gavin Versi

Click here to listen to a clip of Ana talking about the match