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Ana reached the second round of the Southern Californian Open in Carlsbad with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Dominika Cibulkova after a tense two hour, four minute match. It is the 25-year-old’s first victory over the Slovakian world No.21, who entered the match with plenty of momentum, having won last week’s tournament in Stanford by beating world No.4 Agnieszka Radwanska.
That difference in match rhythm was evident in the early stages of the contest. With Ana making her first outing since her disappointing loss in the second round of the Wimbledon Championships five weeks ago, she struggled on serve and fell a break behind early on.
The former world No.1 gradually upped her service performance and got herself back in the set, unleashing two aces to level at 4-4. However, Cibulkova held for 5-4 and followed it up by breaking Ana to love to wrap up the opening set.
Ana continued to improve her level as the match progressed. She carved a 2-1 lead onto the scoreboard in set two and on this occasion she managed to consolidate the break. The 25-year-old lost her serve once in the set, but she was not harmed, as she acquired two more breaks to close it out.
Ana was by far the stronger player in the deciding set. Cibulkova, who is the defending champion this week, could no longer rally with Ana, who ruthlessly cruised through the third set, opening up a 5-0 lead in the blink of an eye.
The 25-year-old wobbled slightly with the second round in sight and conceded a re-break with two double faults while serving for the match. However, she quickly recovered and finished the task one game later, breaking Cibulkova for the third time in the set.
Ana will face American qualifier Coco Vandeweghe in round two on Thursday. The match is scheduled to take place at 7pm local time (4am Friday Central European Time; 10pm Eastern Time). Click here for live point-by-point scoring from La Costa Resort & Spa.
By Joeri Moerman