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Ana scored an impressie win for Serbia in the Fed Cup World Group II Play-off against Romania as she beat world No.5 Simona Halep 6-3, 7-6(2) in the third rubber. However, the home side clinched a 3-1 win as Sorana Cirstea, who defeated Ana yesterday, beat Bojana Jovanovski 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-3 in the fourth rubber.
It was a marvellous display from the 26-year-old, who was in fine form during the 79-minute match against the Romanian No.1. Her victory kept the tie alive and earnt Serbia its first point of the weekend, but Romania prospered.
What a difference 24 hours can make. Yesterday she was a shadow of herself during her defeat against Cirstea; today, Ana scored her third victory over a top-10 ranked player of the season.
Indeed, despite yesterday’s loss, Ana quickly put the disappointment behind her and she stepped on-court brimming with confidence. After holding to 15 in the first game of the match, she unleashed some flashy returns to immediately open up a 2-0 lead.
However, Halep - who had earnt Romania its second point in the tie, beating Bojana Jovanovski in straight sets earlier this morning in a match which was postponed due to the weather conditions – was loudly encouraged by the home crowd and she undid the break, gratefully exploiting some half-court shots from Ana’s racket.
But more breaks were to follow, as both players returned serve very aggressively and precisely. Firstly, Halep got to a 2-3 lead, before Ana eventually shifted up a gear and reeled off four games to wrap up a sublime first set 6-3.
At this moment, the world No.12 was outplaying her opponent in every facet of the game. She was painting the lines with some excellent winners and also surged into a 2-0 lead as the second act got underway.
Halep held her serve in the third game of the set to end Ana’s six-game winning streak as she proved she is one of the players against whom you have to win the points multiple times before it is actually finished. The fleet-footed Romanian successfully chased some of Ana’s drop shots and scored from the most impossible angles to undo the break and get her nose back in front in game five.
Ana added one more break further in the set, but as she was unable to serve it out in the tenth game, a tiebreak ensued.
In the tiebreak, Ana got into a 4-1 lead and sealed victory without further problems, as a forehand return winner proved to be the final blow.
Ana's win-loss record against the top 20-ranked players this season is an impressive 7-2.
By Joeri Moerman